A rare early volume of Shakespeare’s plays is to go on show at the University of Glasgow.
The First Folio is currently held in the University’s collection of historical literary works and documents.
The book is one of only 50 thought to still be remaining in the UK.
And the University’s copy will be one of three in Scotland going on show to mark the 400th anniversary of its publication.
As part of the UK and Ireland Folio400 celebrations, copies will be accessible to the public at the University of Glasgow, the National Library of Scotland and Mount Stuart Trust.
Professor Adrian Streete, head of English Literature at the University of Glasgow, said: “Today the First Folio is a literary and cultural monument, as several of those involved in collecting and printing Shakespeare’s plays four hundred years ago hoped it would be.
“Yet in 1623, the publishing of the First Folio was an expensive and risky undertaking. Shakespeare’s popularity was not then what it would become later.
“The story of how Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies became the ‘First Folio’ is a long and complicated one, bound up with shifting ideas of literary prestige, the theatre, and national identity.
“But the First Folio remains a monument to the enduring power of literature to help us make sense of ourselves and others, and to imagine new and better worlds.”
Only 18 of Shakespeare's plays appeared in print during his lifetime, and some of these were in corrupt or pirated editions.
Today the First Folio is a literary and cultural monument, as several of those involved in collecting and printing Shakespeare’s plays four hundred years ago hoped it would be.
Professor Adrian Streete
The First Folio collection contains 36 plays, 18 of which were here published for the first time, thus saving such works as The Tempest and Macbeth from probable extinction.
About 750 copies of the 1623 First Folio were printed. 235 are known to have survived with 50 copies still in the UK, 149 in USA and 36 in other corners of the world (nine of which are listed as ‘missing’).
The National Library of Scotland’s Head of Rare Books, Maps and Music, Helen Vincent said: “We’ve seen everyone from school children to actors to researchers fascinated by the First Folio and the stories it contains, so we’re looking forward to bringing it to a wide audience in our Treasures exhibition."
The University of Glasgow has an extensive range of rare and internationally important collections.
The University’s First Folio, held in the Library’s Archives & Special Collections, recently underwent conservation work.
It is a complex ‘made up’ volume, formed from combining two or three different imperfect copies to create a whole.
In common with most other surviving First Folios, the book shows considerable signs of wear and use, and many of its pages are stained and dirt engrained.
The copy is particularly important for its early annotations that were made by a reader who had evidently seen Shakespeare’s plays being acted contemporaneously.
Julie Gardham, senior Librarian, Archives & Special Collections, University of Glasgow, said: “It is always a joy to show our First Folio to students at the University.
“At first glance it seems to be dilapidated and imperfect but turning its pages and seeing the annotations of an early owner who ‘knew’ some of the actors and comments on the plays gives us a thrilling direct connection to Shakespeare’s time.”