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Shakespeare works on show

An exhibition of rare works by William Shakespeare is illustrating the importance of the bard north of the border.

The collection was gathered over four centuries by the University and the National Library of Scotland.

A rare opportunity

Exhibits include a copy of the First Folio, a collection of 36 plays published by Shakespeare’s friends seven years after his death.

The exhibition, based at the National Library in Edinburgh has been jointly organised by the two institutions.

Earliest surviving works

The exhibition features a world-class collection of Shakespeare related material held by both institutions that was gathered by key figures with Scottish connections.

In the process, it tells a little-known story of how Shakespeare has been seen from Scotland down the centuries.

There is much more to the way people in Scotland have engaged with Shakespeare than just Macbeth in a kilt. With this exhibition, we are looking beyond Macbeth to explore what Shakespeare means to different people at different times. We are also asking the question – what does he mean to us today?”

Helen VincentSenior curator at National Library of Scotland said

The exhibition looks at Shakespeare through the eyes of three individuals and one family from his own time when he was just one of many playwrights writing for the London stage, through to his iconic status in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Early versions of Shakespeare’s texts were published as small cheap playbooks in a format called ‘quarto.’ These quartos are at the heart of the exhibition and will include one of the rarest of all, the 1599 edition of Titus Andronicus.

This exhibition is not about the untouched book in a case. It’s about how people have engaged with Shakespeare’s words. People scribbled on texts, cut them up, edited them and made facsimile pages. All these interventions and interactions showus how people regarded Shakespeare at different points in time.

Dr James LoxleySchool of Literature, Languages and Cultures

The exhibition, which is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, is on from 9 December to 29 April at the National Library of Scotland, George 1V Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EW. Entry is free.