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The copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio from the collection of John Wolfson that will be on view at 'Firsts'.

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The Firsts fair, renamed for 2019 but now in its 62nd year, is organised by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association and will be opened this year by actor Stephen Fry.

It forms part of Rare Books London which, for the first time, includes four bibliographic fairs – Firsts, The London Map Fair, the PBFA London Antiquarian Book Fair and the Bloomsbury Book Fair – in the same week in early June. Once again ATG is sponsoring the umbrella event, which overall runs from May 22-June 26.

New ABA president Roger Treglown said: “We’re delighted to have ATG as a sponsor of Rare Books London for the fourth year in a row. It’s wonderful to have the newspaper supporting and promoting the rare book trade so actively year after year.”

ATG’s annual Books, Maps & Prints special supplement will be printed with next week’s issue and distributed at key fairs in June. 

First Folio

One of the highlights at the Firsts fair is a rare opportunity to see a Shakespeare First Folio on public display.

A near-complete copy forms part of a loan display and was unveiled during a special event at Shakespeare’s Globe, the fair’s charity partner, on May 9 by rare book dealer and fair chairman Pom Harrington.

Of the 750 copies published in London in 1623, seven years after the Bard’s death, 235 survive, a third of which are held in the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC. This is the first time this copybook has left New York since collector John Wolfson acquired it in the 1970s.

Wolfson, who has bequeathed his extensive assemblage of rare books to the Globe on his death, has selected several highlights from his Shakespearean collection for the show.