Our knowledge about many of William Shakespeare's writings derives from the book of collected plays published posthumously by Shakespeare's actors and friends, John Heminge and Henry Condell. If we did not have this book, Shakespeare would have been known as a minor Renaissance poet and playwright. By collecting almost all of his dramatic writings in one book, Heminge and Condell preserved eighteen plays, including Macbeth and The Tempest, and established the Bard’s legacy.
Since 1623, the plays of Shakespeare found in the First Folio have been performed in dozens of languages, influenced countless modern authors and artists, and become some of the most widely read works in the world.
What is a Folio?
A "folio" was an expensive book, made of full-sized sheets of paper that were folded only once, creating large pages. Folios were usually reserved for Bibles or important works of history, law, and science—not plays. Shakespeare was one of the first English playwrights to have his plays collected in a folio.
How is the Folio coming to Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS?
K-State's exhibit is part of a larger, never-before-done national project to help people view Shakespeare's plays "in the flesh." First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, a traveling exhibition on tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library, teaches visitors about the 1623 First Folio of Shakespeare. This tour is bringing the First Folio to one site in each of the 50 states—including Manhattan, KS—as well as Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico.
The exhibition exclusively features a First Folio from the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC. The Folger's collection of 82 First Folios is by far the largest in the world. In addition to the Folio, the exhibition also consists of panels; digital content; and, in Manhattan, items from K-State's collections of contemporary rare books, relevant scholarly contexts, and pop Shakespeare artifacts. The tour is being organized by the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Cincinnati Museum Center.