UBC Library's copy of William Shakespeare's First Folio will be on display at Vancouver Art Gallery

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      Today (January 12), UBC president Santa Ono announced that UBC now owns a complete first edition of William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies.

      Ono revealed that the First Folio—the other name by which the edition is known—was published seven years after Shakespeare's death in 1623 and came into UBC's possession as a result of a consortium of donors and the Ministry of Canadian Heritage.

      "This is truly a great day for UBC, Vancouver, British Columbia, and for Canada,” Ono said at a media briefing.

      UBC is making this book available for public viewing in a special, limited-time exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

      For All Time: Shakespeare's FIRST FOLIO will run from January 15 to March 20, featuring three subsequent Folio editions of Shakespeare's plays on loan from other institutions.

      This will be the first time that all four Folios will be on display in Vancouver.

      In addition, the exhibition will feature murals on the wall depicting Shakespeare's life and times, as well as one large image juxtaposing 17th-century London with modern-day Vancouver.

      The Vancouver Art Gallery will be selling copies in its gift store of this image of 17th-century London juxtaposed with modern-day Vancouver.
      Vancouver Art Gallery

      UBC did not disclose the price of the First Folio, which includes half of Shakespeare's plays. It's one of only 235 copies remaining around the world and one of only two in Canada, according to UBC librarian Susan Parker.

      Several UBC academics spoke at the briefing, including the dean of arts, Gage Averill, who revealed that the book arrived on campus last fall.

      Averill said that it will be available for research, teaching, learning, and "just for inspiration".

      The artistic director of Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival, Christopher Gaze, also attended the media briefing.

      He described the First Folio as "another jewel in the crown for UBC, the Vancouver Art Gallery, and, of course, for Bard".

      "We’re part of a worldwide community that loves these texts." Gaze said. "This Folio literally shows us their precious roots.”

      Gaze voiced the Vancouver Art Gallery's audio mobile guide for the exhibition. And he mentioned at the media briefing that in the 2022 season, Bard on the Beach will present A Midsummer Night's Dream and Romeo and Juliet.

      In addition, the gallery will present a three-part webinar series on Shakespeare's plays, focusing on King Lear on January 26, Macbeth on February 23, and Antony and Cleopatra on March 23.

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