An actual First Folio. Here. In little Oxford, MS!!
I found out when I was excitedly telling my co-workers about this that most people have no idea what the first folio is. So, quick history lesson:
Shakespeare died in 1616, and in 1623 a group of his friends and colleagues printed the first ever collection of his works in one book. The folio contained 36 plays and many plays that had previously never been published, only performed. So, without this folio, we could have lost such great works as Macbeth and Twelfth Night (and many more). Anyway, in 1623, around 750 copies were printed (all a little different since printing back then was done by different typesetters). Today, around 200 of those original 750 still exist and are kept in various museums, libraries, etc. Back in 1623, they sold for 1 pound, but today a validated folio is sold for over $6 million, making it the most valuable book in the world.
So basically, I am a huge nerd and though I have already seen a folio in England, the fact that I could take my kids to see it here in Oxford was just too exciting for words.
At the museum, the book is surrounded by alarms and you are watched by a guard as you look at it. You cannot photograph it with a flash (obviously) and you have to do a practice photo off to the side so the guard can verify your flash is really off. If you so much as lightly graze the glass with the side of your arm, alarms will go off and they will evacuate the room. If the alarms are set off too many times, the Folger Shakespeare Library will remove the folio.
When we saw it, it was open to the "To be or not to be" speech in Hamlet, which is the most recognizable Shakespeare line, so that makes sense.
I was impressed with the kids - they were bored once they realized that it was just a book in a glass case, but they did understand the importance. Brian and I could have stayed for hours, and they did not understand how more than 5 minutes was needed. They did get stickers, though.
The University was excited to host the folio, so they set up a month of events and plays and lectures to celebrate Shakespeare. We took the kids to see the lecture called "They fight. Shakespeare and Swordplay" because it was put on by the drama department and professional stunt coordinators. I figured that would be more exciting for the kids than a straight lecture - and they LOVED it.
They got to see different fighting styles from the time (like did you know "cloak and dagger" refers to a style of fighting where you literally use your cloak as a weapon in one hand and a dagger in the other?) so fun.
They even let the kids hold the swords and shields at the end.
I have loved Shakespeare ever since I first read my mom's old copy of A Midsummer Night's Dream as a kid. I never understood why people couldn't make sense of it, I guess the iambic pentameter and language just clicked for me. My favorite courses in college were Dr. Carroll's two Shakespeare ones, and I traveled to Stratford and London with Dr. Carroll to study with the Royal Shakespeare Academy. SO amazing. I did not have a blog back in undergrad, so here are some photos from my actual hard copy scrapbook. Such fun memories!!
|We saw Twelfth Night at The Globe!|
|We got to meet and work with the Royal Shakespeare Company and go backstage for their production of Much Ado About Nothing in Stratford.|
|Cheri and I in Canterbury Hall, our dorm room at the University of London.|
|Cheri and I in Oxford (the real one, not the one in Mississippi).|
|Cheri and I on the streets in Stratford - it was such a beautiful little town!|