Teaching Shakespeare!

A Folger Education Blog

Field Trip for the Future: A First Folio

First Folio on display in the Exhibition Hall at the Folger Shakespeare Library.
First Folio on display in the Exhibition Hall at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Just how important is the First Folio? Well, the First Folio is the only source for eighteen of Shakespeare’s plays, including Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, and As You Like It, all of which would otherwise have been lost.

Imagine taking your students to see one of these books! The Folger holds 82 copies of the First Folio, about a third of those still in existence, and by far the largest collection in the world. If you happen to be teaching in the DC area, it’s not too difficult to arrange a class trip to the Folger Shakespeare Library.

But for those teachers in other parts of America, we have something for you to look forward to. In 2016, we’ll be taking the First Folio on the road – to every state in the U.S.

Encourage your local institutions to apply to host a First Folio! This opportunity is open to public, academic, and special libraries; small museums; historical societies; and other cultural venues. Online applications must be submitted by October 24.

This traveling exhibition is offered by the American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office, in collaboration with the Folger Shakespeare Library and Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC). The tour is made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor. Learn more at https://apply.ala.org/shakespeare.




  • Why do orthodox Shakespeare scholars never admit that the first folio was published in the midst of a constitutional crisis (the so-called “Spanish marriage crisis”), during a period of time when Henry de Vere, the 18th Earl of Oxford, was in jail for opposing the marriage of prince Charles to the Spanish infanta, and his brother-in-law the Earl of Pembroke, one of the two dedicatees of the folio, was spearheading the parlimentarian opposition to the match during de Vere’s imprisonment?

    Are these facts irrelevant?

  • I love Shakespeare, and I love the Folger Shakespeare Library.

    Having said that, I’m concerned that the First Folios are sometimes treated as though they were religious artifacts. If they are supposed to prove that the traditional authorship theory is valid, the fact is that they don’t.

    I’ve recently been involved in what Times Higher Education calls “a major spat” over the authorship issue. I wish the Folger would remain neutral on this issue, encouraging scholars to settle it through the evidence, rather than through further ad hominem slurs.

    The THE article I mentioned is here–

  • I guess no one at the Folger is prepared to have a civil conversation on the limitations of the assumptions of the Shakespeare-Industrial-Publishing Complex, and that the Library would prefer to let orthodox Shakespeareans be represented by Gary Taylor, Tom Reedy, Mark Johnson, and the sock puppets of Mike Leadbetter. This, it seems to me, is unfortunate.

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