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Library News Release

Release Date: 03/21/2016

The Seattle Public Library Welcomes Shakespeare's First Folio!

Opening page of First Folio: note to reader on left page, block print portrait of Shakespeare on right page

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The Seattle Public Library, Seattle Shakespeare Company and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray today unveiled an exhibit featuring First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, on tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library.


William Shakespeare's First Folio is considered one of the world's most treasured books and is on display through April 17 during regular hours at the Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., Level 8 Gallery, 206-386-4636.


The exhibit's first visitors were delighted to be face-to-face with an original 1623 First Folio, the first collected edition of Shakespeare's plays, published seven years after his death.


"I admire the exhibit's connection with Seattle's theater scene," said Marga Rose Hancock, a local writer who attended the First Folio's opening. "I came today because Shakespeare has a very important place in my life. When I'm in need of wisdom, I find myself with a sonnet in my heart."


The First Folio compiles 36 plays, 18 of which would otherwise have been lost, including "Macbeth," "Julius Caesar," "Twelfth Night," "The Tempest," "Antony and Cleopatra," "The Comedy of Errors" and "As You Like It."


"It is exciting to think that, in one of the most connected cities in the world, this exhibit is all about immersing yourself in the experience of the printed word," said Marcellus Turner, city librarian. "We have had a great time discovering ways to connect people from all walks of life to this extraordinary piece of history."


Mayor Murray encouraged everyone to visit the Central Library, which is the only site in the state hosting this national traveling exhibit.


"We look forward to welcoming visitors from across Washington state and beyond over the next four weeks," said Murray. "It only makes sense that one of the most important books in the world should be on display in one of the world's best libraries and in the most well-read city in America."


Accompanying the First Folio is a Third Folio, on loan from the Pigott Collection; a multi-panel exhibit exploring the significance of Shakespeare's work; and a display of the history of Shakespeare's impact on Seattle throughout the city's history.


The Library encourages patrons to reserve a free admission ticket in advance to ensure access to the exhibit. About 9,000 tickets have already been reserved. Visit the First Folio ticketing page for more details, as well as the information page for educators.


Related Library events will include concerts with Shakespeare-era music, film adaptations of Shakespeare's plays, lectures by Shakespeare scholars, nightlife events, a family-friendly Community Day scheduled for Saturday, March 26 and much more. Information about related programming can be found on our First Folio event calendar.


The Library is partnering with the Seattle Shakespeare Company, the English-Speaking Union - Seattle Branch, the Young Shakespeare Workshop, the University of Washington English Department and Scarecrow Video to provide related programming during the four-week exhibit.


"Shakespeare's First Folio is a cultural prize that our community deserves to experience," said George Mount, Seattle Shakespeare Company artistic director. "We knew partnering with The Seattle Public Library would ensure an ideal showcase. Shakespeare's words and stories permeate our modern world in ways both obvious and invisible. The Folio is a great jumping off point to explore Shakespeare's wide-ranging influence."


First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare, on tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library, is a national traveling exhibit organized by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., to commemorate the 400th anniversary in 2016 of Shakespeare's death. It is produced in association with the American Library Association and the Cincinnati Museum Center. The exhibit has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor, and by the support of Google.org, Vinton and Sigrid Cerf, and other generous donors.


The Seattle Public Library's exhibit of the First Folio is made possible by support from donors to The Seattle Public Library Foundation, PACCAR, a generous gift to the Foundation from Gary Kunis and Union Bank.


"The Foundation is delighted to join with other community sponsors to bring the First Folio to the Library," said Jonna Ward, executive director of The Seattle Public Library Foundation. "It supports the Library's vision to enrich lives by creating wonderful experiences for our community."


For more information, call the Library at 206-386-4636, visit First Folio! online or Ask a Librarian.

For more information contact:

Andra Addison, communications director

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