The Antiquarian Booksellers' Association, ABA, will welcome colleagues and customers when the doors open tomorrow to Firsts, London's rare book fair.
After several years, when the fair took place in September, the organisers have moved it back to its original dates, a May event where the London trade welcomes bibliophiles from the UK and abroad.
Coinciding with the 400th anniversary of the publication of Shakespeare's First Folio, the fair will run a theme, ‘Shakespeare: 400 Years of Influence’.
Many exhibitors will be bringing items responding to the theme, exploring the long-lasting
reach of the First Folio, which is celebrating its 400th anniversary this year. A copy of the First
Folio will be presented by Peter Harrington, allowing visitors to admire this iconic piece of
literary history, alongside a Third Folio on sale at Jonkers Rare Books’ stand. It is arguably the
rarest of the four 17th-century folios of Shakespeare’s plays, as most copies of The Third Folio
were destroyed in the Great Fire of London.
A Preview is available on the website of the fair HERE
The fair will include many other artefacts from the Elizabethan age. Bruce Marshall Rare Books will exhibit an amazingly preserved example of Queen Elizabeth I’s Second Great Seal, an iconic item from Shakespeare’s day. The seal was created at a time when Elizabeth was trying to cement her public image. Christian White Rare Books will bring a signed document by Shakespeare’s long-term patron the Lord Chamberlain, George Carey, Lord Hunsdon, dated 1st January 1598, around the time that the Bard was working on Much Ado About Nothing. Carey’s company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, held the exclusive rights to perform Shakespeare’s works, usually at the Globe Theatre. Meanwhile, Jonkers Rare Books will display a copy of Madagascar, the first edition of the 1638 book of poems by William Davenant, Shakespeare’s godson, which includes the poem ‘In Remembrance of Master William Shakespeare’.
The fair will include many other editions of Shakespeare’s work in the centuries since its original publication. A beautiful copy of Twelfth Night illustrated by Eric Ravilious will be on display by Ashton Rare Books, whilst E.C. Rare Books will present a Clarendon Press limited edition miniature of Shakespeare’s poem ‘Venus and Adonis’ (1905). New exhibitor Kagerou Bunko will be bringing a first edition of the first Japanese translation of the Merchant of Venice (1883) by Tsutomu Inoue, illustrated by the artist and printmaker Utagawa Yoshimune II. Shakespeare’s work was introduced to Japan relatively late, after the opening up of the country during the Meiji era. Unusual items testifying to Shakespeare’s long-lasting influence over popular culture include a carved oak library chair incorporating characters from The Merry Wives of Windsor.
Outside of this year’s theme, visitors will have the opportunity to see the words of authors and
historical figures in their own hand.
Do not miss out on the events programme, talks and tours have been set up for the fair and are a great way to learn more about books and book collecting. Booksellers and librarians will share some of their fascinating worlds.
For more information about the fair, please visit: https://www.firstslondon.com/
FIND THE EVENTS PROGRAMME HERE