It was unveiled at a special event in Shakespeare’s Globe, the fair’s charity partner, this morning by rare book dealer Pom Harrington. This is the first time the book has left New York since collector John Wolfson acquired it in the 1970s.
Running from June 7-9 at Battersea Evolution, the fair is a rare opportunity to see the Folio on public display. Of the 750 copies published, 235 survive, a third of which are held in the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC, while many others are in institutional or private holdings.
The text was published in London, 1623, seven years after the Bard’s death, and presented 36 of his plays together including 18 for the first time. Without the Folio, it is possible that works such as Macbeth and Twelfth Night would have been lost.
Wolfson, who has bequeathed his extensive assemblage of rare books to the Globe on his death, has selected several highlights from his collection for the show. They are joined by stage props from the Globe and another special exhibition staged by The International Society of Bible Collectors.
Actor Stephen Fry opens the fair, which hosts more than 150 dealers. Wolfson will also speak on the opening day accompanied by actors.
Harrington, chairman of Firsts, said he was “delighted” that visitors would have the chance to see the First Folio, calling it “arguably the most famous book in world literature”.
The fair, now in its 62nd year, is organised by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association. This is its firs year with its new title, Firsts.