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Australia’s only Shakespeare First Folio heading to Kiama

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Local Shakespeare fans can get up close and personal with Australia’s only original copy of the first publication of the Bard’s plays - known as the First Folio 1623 – when it visits Kiama Library on Monday 20 June 2016.

“Many people are surprised that the State Library holds such a rare global treasure in its renowned collection, and I am always thrilled to say that the Library in fact holds the nation’s only complete set of Shakespeare’s First, Second, Third and Fourth folios,” says NSW State Librarian & Chief Executive, Alex Byrne.

As part of the Library’s Shakespeare 400 celebration, commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death in April 2016, the Library has released a fully digitised version of the First Folio on its website. The First Folio will also visit a selection of regional libraries this year including Kiama, Dubbo and Lismore.

The First Folio, featuring 36 plays, was donated to the Library in 1885 by two English brothers, Richard and George Tangye, who were said to be “greatly struck by the fine collection of works in the [then] Sydney Free Public Library…” during a recent visit (European Mail, 1885).

Apart from the Bible, the First Folio is considered the most influential book ever published in the English language. While 750 copies are believed to have been printed, only 234 are known to survive today and very few of these are available to access online

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