For All Time: The Shakespeare FIRST FOLIO celebrates the University of British Columbia Library’s recent acquisition of a first edition of William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories and Tragedies—an extremely rare book published in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death, and credited with preserving almost half of his plays.
In partnership with the Vancouver Art Gallery, this tangible piece of cultural heritage will be exhibited to the public along with three subsequent seventeenth-century Folio editions of Shakespeare’s plays, marking the first time all four Folios have been displayed in Vancouver.
The First Folio, as it is also recognized, includes thirty-six of Shakespeare’s thirty-eight known plays, edited by his close friends, fellow writers and actors. It is the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays and the foundation of his enduring legacy and reputation. When Shakespeare died in 1616, only about half of his works had appeared in print. Eighteen plays—including The Tempest, Macbeth, As You Like It, The Winter’s Tale and Julius Caesar—remained unpublished in any form. The First Folio thus not only gave us their first appearance in print but was also the means by which they were preserved and passed on to future generations.
Cultural properties of the First Folio’s magnitude and capacity to engage the public’s imagination are not evenly distributed around the world. Of the estimated 235 copies that remain worldwide, there is only one other copy in Canada. UBC’s acquisition of a First Folio ensures public access to one of the world’s most precious cultural treasures.
For All Time will be accompanied by an audio mobile guide featuring the voice of Christopher Gaze, Founding Artistic Director of Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival, along with a glimpse of UBC’s augmented and virtual reality projects that will come to life this year and in 2023.
Co-organized by the University of British Columbia and the Vancouver Art Gallery and curated by Gregory Mackie, Associate Professor of English and Norman Colbeck Curator, UBC Library Rare Books and Special Collections, and Katherine Kalsbeek, Head, UBC Library Rare Books and Special Collections