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First Folio celebrations at Shakespeare North Playhouse

A rare copy of the Bard’s First Folio is on display at Shakespeare North Playhouse this autumn to mark the 400th anniversary of its publication.

The Folio, printed in 1623 - seven years after Shakespeare’s death - brought together 36 of his plays for the first time. Only 18 had been published in his lifetime.

An estimated 750 copies were printed, of which only a third have survived. The copy coming to Prescot is one of five in the possession of the British Library and is one of the earliest printed.

Visitors to Shakespeare North Playhouse will be able to see the First Folio until November 11 as part of its Shakespeare’s First Folio: 400 Years On exhibition and the British Library’s Treasures on Tour.

The exhibition, curated by Ruth Darling and with information and imagery from, will explore how the Folio came to be created.

It also coincides with the European premiere of Lauren Gunderson’s funny and fast-paced The Book of Will, a co-production between Shakespeare North, Bolton Octagon and Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch.

To save Shakespeare’s works for the ages, the King's Men hatch a near-impossible plan to collect his words on paper, setting them off on a race against time through London. Their hearts are on the line and those they love are counting on them – to maybe leave a legacy that will last forever.

Above: The Book of Will. Photo by Pamela Raith Photography. Top: The rare copy of the First Folio. Photo by Peter Le May.

Melanie Lewis, chief executive of Shakespeare North Playhouse, said: “We’re honoured to welcome Shakespeare's First Folio from the British Library to the Shakespeare North Playhouse as part of their Treasures on Tour programme.

“This historic loan represents not only a profound connection to our theatrical heritage, but also a remarkable opportunity for our audiences to engage directly with the very words that have shaped literary history.

“As we host this priceless artefact, we’re equally thrilled to stage Lauren Gunderson's production, The Book of Will, a play that beautifully captures the spirit of collaboration, dedication and friendship that led to the creation of the First Folio.

"This confluence of history and artistry promises to be an unforgettable journey into the heart of Shakespearean storytelling.”

The Book of Will and Shakespeare’s First Folio: 400 Years On both run until November 11. Details HERE

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