Shakespeare's First Folio at 400

To mark 400 years of Shakespeare's First Folio, the School of Advanced Study and Senate House Library are running an exciting programme of events and publications, including a major new exhibition.

Shakespeare's First Folios: A 400-year journey

21 November 2023 - 29 February 2024 | Senate House Library 

A free exhibition at Senate House Library will examine the making of one of the world’s most iconic books. The exhibition traces the extraordinary journey of the First Folio since its publication in 1623, including how it was re-issued and published in different formats, and how the book became prized by collectors, including Sir Edwin Durning-Lawrence and Sir Louis Sterling, whose First Folios are now treasures of the Library’s collections. 

One of the two First Folios held at Senate House Library will also be on display on selected dates.

Inaugural lecture

Thursday 23 November | 18:00 - 20:00 | Chancellor's Hall, Senate House

Professor Roland Greene, Mark Pigott KBE Professor, Anthony P. Meier Family Professor of the Humanities, Director of the Stanford Humanities Center and Professor of English and Comparative Literature, will address the subject of ‘Shakespeare’s First Folio and its World’:

The publication of Shakespeare’s First Folio in 1623 was a landmark in English literary history. More than that, it was an engine for cultural renewal with consequences for the rest of the seventeenth century and after. This lecture considers the First Folio as an event, not only in its immediate national context but from outside England and in light of its influence over the long term.

A reception will follow. Book your place here.

Going digital

On 8 November 2023, 400 years since the First Folio was entered into the register of the Stationers’ Company of London, Senate House Library have launched fully digitised versions of the First Folios in their collection.

Readers can explore these beautiful texts in detail and gain a better understanding of their history and influence.

To coincide with the digital launch, librarians and researchers at the School of Advanced Study have also published a series of blogs examining the Folio and its impact from a range of critical perspectives. Read them here