Shakespeare’s First Folio: The First Four Hundred Years

Non-selling exhibition

  • Event date 2–26 May 2023
  • Event location London
Christie’s celebrates 400 years of Shakespeare’s First Folio by exhibiting the largest display of First Folios ever assembled in the United Kingdom.

This special exhibition uniquely brings together six rarely-seen examples from British private and institutional libraries. The First Folio is one of the most important publications of all time. As well as being the first edition of the collected plays of William Shakespeare, it preserves 18 of his plays which would otherwise have been lost for eternity. Each surviving copy tells its own story, and the exhibition celebrates not only the original publication but also the afterlife of individual copies and the vicissitudes of Shakespeare across the centuries.

On display will be the Arundel Castle copy—courtesy of the Duke of Norfolk—one of only five complete copies in private hands, joined by those from private and institutional collections across Britain.

The display is free and open to all, timed just after Shakespeare’s birthday, around the coronation, and marking the launch of the summer season in London.



Christie's Celebrates the Coronation of Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla

The exhibition is free and open to all

Christie’s London
8 King Street
London, SW1Y 6QT

2–26 May
Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm
Saturday – Sunday, 12pm – 5pm
Closed on 6–8 & 13–14 May

+44 (0) 20 7839 9060

Special feature

Celebrating 400 years of Shakespeare’s First Folio

‘Not of an age, but for all time’: celebrating 400 years of Shakespeare’s First Folio

No one in history has had such a colossal impact on English literature and language as William Shakespeare. Oft-quoted, imitated, and acted on stages throughout the world, many of the words of Shakespeare could have been lost for ever had it not been for John Heminge and Henry Condell, the writer’s friends and fellow actors, who compiled Mr William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies, often referred to as the ‘First Folio’.

Browse works by William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare was a playwright, poet and actor in the late 16th and early 17th centuries — England’s Elizabethan and Jacobean ages. He is widely regarded as the greatest dramatist of all time, and as England’s ‘national poet’. His 37 known plays, four poems and 154 sonnets exist today in at least 80 languages, and it is estimated that, every minute of every day, someone somewhere is performing Hamlet.

Browse and buy works, check auction results and learn more about William Shakespeare.

Folio 400

See for more information about Shakespeare’s First Folio and for events celebrating the 400th anniversary of its publication

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Folio 400