Bard’s First Folios for display in Blackburn

18 May 2016

This summer, Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery shows for the first time ever, the first four Complete Works of William Shakespeare.

This unique exhibition boasts the display of an extremely rare and important first edition of Shakespeare’s plays, known as the First Folio on loan from Stonyhurst College in Clitheroe.

Blackburn’s own Edward Hart collected fine examples of the Second, Third and Fourth Folio, which he gifted to the people of Blackburn for display in the museum. Together with the Stonyhurst First Folio the display commemorates the anniversary of 400 years since the death of the playwright, William Shakespeare.

Seven years after Shakespeare’s death his fellow actors and friends collected his plays together and put them together in a Folio format in 1623. It is believed that around 750 copies of the first of these were printed, of which there are 234 known surviving copies.

In 1946 Robert Edward Hart, left his large collection of manuscripts, books and coins to Blackburn Museum for the enjoyment of everyone in the town. Known as the Hart Collection, it includes Psalters and Books of Hours and also some of the earliest printed books by William Caxton and a page from the Gutenberg bible. Those with a taste for Arts and Crafts can see books made by William Morris’ Kelmscott Press including his beautiful Canterbury Tales.

In addition Hart’s collection illustrates his curiosity about the world with a diverse collection of Islamic books including Persian poetry and clay tablets dating back from 2000 BC that were discovered in what is now modern day Iraq. His Roman Imperial coin collection is one of the best outside of the British Museum.

Executive member for Leisure, Culture & Young People, Councillor Damian Talbot said: “We have a world class collection of artefacts in the museum and the anniversary of Shakespeare’s death is an opportunity to shine the light on some of our cultural gems. I would urge everyone not to miss this once in a lifetime chance to see all four folios together and to celebrate one of our greatest ever playwrights.”

One of the first purpose built free museums to open outside of London in 1874, Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery houses a rich and fascinating collection covering fine art, decorative art, Egyptology, coins, manuscripts, natural history, social history and South Asia.

The folios are on show from Wednesday, May 25 until the Wednesday, August 31.

Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery is free and open to the public Wednesday to Saturday 12noon to 4.45pm contact 01254 667130

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