A landmark sale to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death
‘Shakespeare’s First Folio is of supreme importance,’ says Meg Ford, International Head of Books and Manuscripts. ‘It is not only the greatest work of English literature — it is probably the greatest work of world literature.’
Untouched for more than 200 years, the rare First Folio — the first complete edition of Shakespeare’s works to be published — that Ford inspects in this video was completely unknown to scholars. ‘To bring a copy from the shadows into the light is very special,’ says the specialist. ‘It contains 36 plays, 18 of which would be unknown had it not been printed — including Macbeth and The Tempest.’ A complete set of the first four Folios, published in 1623, 1632, 1664 and 1685, will be offered in a landmark sale in London on 25 May.
Born on 23 April 1564, William Shakespeare died on the same date in 1616. Stratford-upon-Avon may be the town of his birth, but London is where the great playwright and poet made his name — and one never need look far in the capital for Shakespeare-related corners or events. The coming weeks and months are especially brimming with Shakespeare commemorations, and these are Meg Ford‘s recommendations:
Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey: Where better to start (or end) a commemorative jaunt then in Poet’s Corner, where a memorial statue designed by William Kent stands, having been erected in 1741.
A stroll across St James’s Park brings you to Christie’s, where Shakespeare: the Four Folios will be on exhibition from 20-28 April before the auction on 25 May.
A few stops along the Piccadilly line at Senate House Library at University of London is Shakespeare: Metamorphosis, a free exhibition tracing the 400-year transformation of the playwright and perceptions of his plays.
The must-see exhibition of the anniversary year is Shakespeare in Ten Acts at the British Library. From accounts of the earliest, contemporary productions (even aboard ship) to classic interpretations of the modern day, the exhibition showcases 200 unique and rare items, as well as performance sound recordings.
All the world’s a stage, and Shakespeare’s Globe is, appropriately, the epicentre of Shakespeare celebrations. It is welcoming home its production of Hamlet that has been touring every country in the world over the past two years and opening productions of The Taming of the Shrew and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Over the actual anniversary weekend, 23-24 April, Shakespeare’s Globe is holding The Complete Walk, consisting of short Shakespeare films projected onto 37 screens along the banks of the Thames.
For other activities around the anniversary, visit Shakespeare400.
For more features, interviews and videos, visit Christie’s Daily