First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare National Exhibition Comes to California

First Folio

Have you ever seen an original copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio? Well, soon you can when it visits Southern California. The Folger Shakespeare Library, in partnership with Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association, is touring a First Folio of Shakespeare in 2016 to all 50 states, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico.

Here in California, The Old Globe and its partner, the San Diego Public Library, have been chosen to host First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, a national traveling exhibition of the Shakespeare First Folio. It is one of the most valuable printed books in the world; a First Folio sold for $6.2 million in 2001 at Christie’s and another one for $5.2 million in 2006 in London. It originally sold for one British pound (20 shillings)—about $200 today. 

“The Old Globe is bursting with pride that the only California stop on the national tour of First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare will be in San Diego,” said Globe Artistic Director Barry Edelstein. “This volume is one of the most important ever published, and the plays printed in it—the plays that are the lifeblood of The Old Globe—are cornerstones of our language, our worldview, and our very humanity. That we will be able to give San Diegans—and all Californians—a chance to view firsthand the pages on which those plays first appeared is an excitement and an honor.”

San Diego Public Library Director Misty Jones adds, “The San Diego Public Library is thrilled to be partnering with The Old Globe, one of the most esteemed regional theaters in the nation, and other institutions to bring First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare to San Diego,” said. “This partnership is the true meaning of collaboration. By leveraging our resources and working with each other, we not only will be providing access to view one of the most important documents ever published but also sharing the spirit of Shakespeare with all San Diegans and Californians.”

The First Folio is the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays published in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death. It contains 36 plays, half of which had not been published during Shakespeare’s lifetime and would have been lost if two of Shakespeare’s fellow actors hadn’t compiled the volume, hoping to preserve their friend’s work for future generations.

The Folger Shakespeare Library holds 82 copies of the First Folio, by far the largest collection in the world and more than a third of the 233 known copies in the world today. It is believed that 750 copies were originally printed.

When the First Folio arrives in San Diego, California, its pages will be opened to the most quoted line from Shakespeare and one of the most quoted lines in the world, “To be or not to be,” from Hamlet. Accompanying the rare book will be a multi-panel exhibition exploring the significance of Shakespeare, then and now, with additional digital content and interactive activities.

The exhibition will be presented to San Diego by The Old Globe and the volume will be hosted at The Central Library @ Joan Λ Irwin Jacobs Common. Prior to, during, and after the exhibition, The Old Globe, the San Diego Public Library, and their many project partners will offer numerous public programs for adults and families.

Touring dates for First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare will be announced in April 2015. You can bet this means a road trip!

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First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor, and by the generous support of Vinton and Sigrid Cerf and the Google Inc. Charitable Giving Fund of Tides Foundation. Sponsorship opportunities of this major exhibition and the Folger’s other Wonder of Will programs commemorating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death are available; learn more at

For more information about The Old Globe, visit

For additional resources, or to search for materials in the Library’s online catalog, go to


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare National Exhibition Comes to California | The Shakespeare Standard
  2. Karen Zumsteg
    Feb 26, 2015 @ 15:27:33

    Ooo! Fun!



  3. Shakespeare in LA
    Feb 26, 2015 @ 15:41:39

    Indeed a momentous occasion!



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