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The Old Globe

First Folio Tour Making Stop at Old Globe

The Old Globe logoThe Old Globe in San Diego, in partnership with the San Diego Public Library, has been selected as the host site for the state of California for First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare, a national traveling exhibition of the Shakespeare First Folio, one of the world's most treasured books. The Folger Shakespeare Library, in partnership with Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association, is touring a First Folio of Shakespeare in 2016 to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

“The Old Globe is bursting with pride that the only California stop on the national tour of First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare will be in San Diego,” Globe Artistic Director Barry Edelstein said in a press release. “This volume is one of the most important ever published, and the plays printed in it—the plays that are the lifeblood of The Old Globe—are cornerstones of our language, our worldview, and our very humanity. That we will be able to give San Diegans—and all Californians—a chance to view firsthand the pages on which those plays first appeared is an excitement and an honor.

“Together with the San Diego Public Library, we brought together a coalition of great institutions that demonstrates just how rich and deep are the arts and culture in San Diego. We are grateful to all of our partner institutions and thrilled that the tour's organizers recognized the vitality of this group and the impact on our region of the work we do. I look forward to announcing soon the variety of wonderful programming the Globe and our partners will present before, during, and after the tour visits us.”

“The San Diego Public Library is thrilled to be partnering with The Old Globe, one of the most esteemed regional theaters in the nation, and other institutions to bring First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare to San Diego,” San Diego Public Library Director Misty Jones said in the release. “This partnership is the true meaning of collaboration. By leveraging our resources and working with each other, we not only will be providing access to view one of the most important documents ever published but also sharing the spirit of Shakespeare with all San Diegans and Californians.”

The First Folio is the first collected edition of Shakespeare's plays. It was published in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare's death. It contains 36 plays, half of which had not been published during Shakespeare's lifetime and would have been lost if not for the First Folio. Two of Shakespeare's fellow actors compiled the volume, hoping to preserve their friend's work for future generations. They gave us definitive versions of the entire Shakespeare canon, and they saved from oblivion such masterworks as Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, Antony and Cleopatra, The Comedy of Errors, and As You Like It by publishing them for the first time in the First Folio. 

“The First Folio is the book that gave us Shakespeare. Between its covers, we discover his most famous characters—Hamlet, Desdemona, Cordelia, Macbeth, Romeo, Juliet, and hundreds of others—speaking words that continue to move and inspire us,” said Michael Witmore, director of the Folger Shakespeare Library. “Shakespeare tells the human story like no one else. He connects us to each other, to our history, and to themes and ideas that touch us every day. We are delighted that we can share this precious resource with people everywhere, from San Diego, California, to Gurabo, Puerto Rico, from Eugene, Oregon, to Duluth, Minnesota.”

The Folger Shakespeare Library holds 82 copies of the First Folio, by far the largest collection in the world and more than a third of the 233 known copies in the world today. It is believed that 750 copies were originally printed.

The Shakespeare First Folio is one of the most valuable printed books in the world; a First Folio sold for $6.2 million in 2001 at Christie's and another one for $5.2 million in 2006 in London. It originally sold for one British pound (20 shillings)—about $200 today.

When the First Folio arrives in San Diego, California, its pages will be opened to the most quoted line from Shakespeare and one of the most quoted lines in the world: “To be or not to be,” from Hamlet. Accompanying the rare book will be a multipanel exhibition exploring the significance of Shakespeare, then and now, with additional digital content and interactive activities.

The exhibition will be presented to San Diego by The Old Globe and the volume will be hosted here at The Central Library @ Joan Λ Irwin Jacobs Common. Prior to, during, and after the exhibition, The Old Globe, the San Diego Public Library, and their many project partners will offer numerous public programs for adults and families. 

Final touring dates for First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare will be announced in April 2015.

First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor, and by the generous support of Vinton and Sigrid Cerf and the Google Inc. Charitable Giving Fund of Tides Foundation. Sponsorship opportunities of this major exhibition and the Folger's other Wonder of Will programs commemorating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death are available; learn more at

March 6, 2015

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