Shakespeare collection turns 400

It’s the First Folio’s birthday on 8th November.

The Everything to Everybody Project is celebrating the First Folio’s 400th Birthday throughout November with a series of events including school visits, an exhibition in the Shakespeare Memorial Room, and a panel event.

Not only do these events celebrate the First Folio’s birthday, they also mark the culmination of The Everything to Everybody Project: a National Lottery Heritage Fund project led by the University of Birmingham and Birmingham City Council, which has revived the city’s almost-forgotten Birmingham Shakespeare Memorial Library over the past four years. This great collection is housed in the iconic Library of Birmingham, and constitutes the first great Shakespeare library in the world, as well as one which, inspiringly, from the very beginning has belonged to all the people of the City.

On the First Folio’s birthday, 8th November, George Dixon Academy will visit the Library of Birmingham to take a look at the First Folio as well as getting involved in some 17th century printing activities with Up An’ At Em’ History. On the 16th November, the Everything to Everybody Project will host an academic panel event for project partners, volunteers and guests where Professor Tiffany Stern, Dr Chris Lauoutaris and Dr Rob Stagg will cast light on the significance of the First Folio and Birmingham’s First Folio in particular. From the end of November you can visit the final project exhibition in the Shakespeare Memorial Library – at the top of the Library of Birmingham – featuring items and responses to the Shakespeare Collection by members of the Everything to Everybody Project team.

Ewan Fernie, Project Director for the Everything to Everybody Project said: “Throughout this exhilarating project we’ve been celebrating Birmingham’s First Folio, and the incredible Shakespeare collection of which it’s a part, across the City and beyond. It’s wonderful that Everything to Everybody culminates around the 400th birthday of this most important secular book and Birmingham’s uniquely publicly-owned copy in particular.”

In addition to celebrating the importance of Birmingham’s First Folio at home, Professor Fernie will also feature alongside Project Patron Adrian Lester in a new three-part series, Shakespeare: Rise of a Genuis, as part of the BBC’s Shakespeare season celebrating the 400th anniversary of the First Folio, with the first episode airing at 9pm on November 8th (the actual birthday of the Folio) on BBC 2. Prof Fernie will then spread the word about Birmingham’s distinctive Shakespeare heritage internationally when he visits Australia toward the end of the year, where he is due to deliver a public lecture at New South Wales Public Library in Sydney about Birmingham’s gift of the only First Folio in Australia, which was presented in a Birmingham-made casket by Richard and George Tangye in the same decade that Birmingham acquired its own First Folio. The Tangye brothers are also in effect the founders of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and represent a proud tradition of publicly-owned culture from Birmingham.

Find out more about the Everything to Everybody Project here.

Pics – Katja Ogrin.