0232 GMT October 16, 2019
The copy of one of the most famous books in the world is heading to Tyneside for what is described as a “once in a lifetime” public display in the city.
Newcastle’s City Library has scored a coup in gaining permission to exhibit the precious 1623 work, which is venturing outside the British Library in London for the very first time, chroniclelive.co.uk reported.
The book will be making the 282-mile trip to Newcastle at the end of the week in readiness for an exhibition opening on Monday, March 14.
‘First Folios’ are the first collected editions of William Shakespeare’s plays and were compiled seven years after the death of the playwright said to be the greatest writer in the world.
Had they not been printed, it is believed that the likes of ‘The Tempest’ and ‘Macbeth’ would have been lost forever.
The term ‘folio’ refers to the way that the paper was folded to create a large book; a technique usually used for religious or historical texts.
Just 233 of an original 750 ‘First Folios’ are known to survive worldwide and five of them are in the possession of the British Library which is making the loan to mark the 400-year anniversary of the bard’s death.
King George III’s copy was presented to the library, then the British Museum, in 1823 by his son George IV as part of the King’s Library.
Coun David Stockdale, cabinet member for communities and facilities at Newcastle City Council, said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and Newcastle will be grabbing it with both hands.”
He said the 1,000-page book will be a huge attraction for visitors and schools and especially Shakespeare fans, and it is expected to swell numbers still further at the library.
“To be lent such a prestigious and important piece of literary heritage from the British Library is an honor for the people of Newcastle; and will be a major asset for the time it is with us,” added Coun Stockdale.
The ‘First Folio’ will be on display on level six of the library from March 14 until April 24, with the book left open at one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays – A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It will be free to view during the library’s usual opening hours.
A complementary events program will include an exhibition of Shakespearean costumes and some early Shakespeare playbills from the archive at Newcastle Theatre Royal.