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Shakespeare's First Folio Comes Home after 40 Years

In the 1970s, theatre writer and bibliophile John Wolfson began accumulating what was to become one of the largest and most rare collections of works on Shakespeare in the world.
Published on 21 May 2019
First Folio Firsts London

Housed in New York only the lucky few have been offered the opportunity to see these marvellous editions. Now visitors to Firsts London will have an unrivalled chance to see Wolfson's Shakespeare First Folio (1623), and other historic source books, in a unique exhibition staged with 2019 Fair Charity Partner, Shakespeare's Globe, to raise awareness for its fundraising initiative, Project Prospero.

The First Folio is the first printed collection of Shakespeare’s plays, published seven years after his death in 1616. Of the 36 plays assembled by his friends and fellow actors John Heminges and Henry Condell, 18 were being published for the first time. Without the First Folio, it is likely that half of Shakespeare’s plays, including Twelfth Night, Measure for Measure, Macbeth, Julius Caesar and The Tempest, would have been lost forever. 

Firsts - London's Rare Book Fair - the 62nd ABA summer fair - returns to Battersea Park, for a second time. This major three-day event is one of the largest and most prestigious antiquarian book fairs in the world. Showcasing rare, unique and unusual items from more than 150 leading UK and international dealers, Firsts London is the jewel in the crown of Rare Books London, which celebrates old and rare books, with special events and behind-the-scenes activities for bibliophiles during May and June.

To see a full list of exhibitors, please go here. FIRSTS LONDON EXHIBITORS 


Saturday 8 June
1pm  'The Natural History': the oldest surviving encyclopaedia from the Graeco-Roman World

Daisy Dunn, author of In The Shadow of Vesuvius, will discuss Pliny the Elder's celebrated book, The Natural History. Daisy will also have signed copies of her book available.

3pm Digital Perspectives on Books and Readers
Dr Christopher Ohge, Lecturer in Digital Approaches to Literature, looks at some of the new digital initiatives at the Institute of English Studies including new research on scholarly editions and text analysis of authorial marginalia.

4.30pm Firsts Steps to a Collection: Find Your Niche 
The Book Collector presents a panel discussion lead by Michael Caine of the TLS offering expert advice on how to start a collection.

5.45pm The Noblest Monument of English Prose: Early Printings of the Bible in English
Benjamin Crawford of the International Society of Bible Collectors discusses collecting the Bible, from Gutenberg to the Jerusalem Chamber.

Sunday 9 June
11.30am Office Fair Partner Biblio presents The Evolving State of Internet Bookselling

A lively panel discussion led by Biblio CEO Brendan Sherar and Luke Lozier, Principal at Bibliopolis.

3.30pm Remaking Folklore in the Modern Age
Sophie Mackintosh, author of The Water Cure which was long listed for the Man Booker Prize, discusses our enduring fascination with folklore, and the stories that have influenced her work such as the Mabinogion and traditional Welsh fairytales.

Firsts London

The Fair is presented and managed by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association (ABA), in collaboration with the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB). These internationally recognized badges of excellence guarantee the accuracy of description and authenticity of all items for sale, as well as the professionalism and knowledge of the exhibitors.

Firsts London is a highlight of the year for bibliophiles around the world.

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