No book in English literature is more important than Shakespeare’s First Folio. Andy* got up close, got to see one of the five best copies in the world. The rarest of rares, Guildhall Library’s First Folio is the crown jewel in the library’s Rare Books Collection. Andy interviewed its guardian, Guildhall Library’s Senior Librarian. Special occasion. It was just the three of them: Andy, the Librarian and the First Folio. And my goodness, what a lot of fascinating stuff we learn from this interview. Why the First Folio is so important – some would say it’s the most important book in the world (pace Bibleists and Koranists). How it was physically put together and what that tells us. Its characteristics. The paper (it was French paper, who woulda thought it!). What’s the big deal about the portrait. How much it cost. Who would have bought a First Folio. The Kennedy assassination and Harry Potter “connections.” Why it’s so appropriate that one of the five best copies in the world is there, in Guildhall Library (hint: location, location, location). First Folio 101 (what is a folio as opposed to a quarto). And our timing is perfect – because today is Shakespeare’s anniversary. April 23, today, is, by common consent Shakespeare’s birthday. And it’s the day he died. As well as being St. George’s Day. Today is, not to put too fine a point on it, the day of days in the English calendar. *Andy got to see Guildhall Library’s First Folio – got the interview – because as well as being a London Walks guide he’s a specialist, an authority, on London’s Tudor & Stuart drama.
If you are interested in the literature of London, come on one of our many literary tours.