Rare 1st edition of Shakespeare’s pieces acquired by UBC now on display at the Vancouver Art Gallery


The University of British Columbia has added a very valuable book to its library, and you can bet students won’t write notes in the margins of it.

The school has acquired a complete first edition of Stories and Tragedies from William Shakespeare’s Comedies a rare collection of 36 of the 38 known pieces of the famous Bard. Also known as the First Folio, the book was published in 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death, and is being edited by his close friends and fellow writers and actors.

Katherine Kalsbeek, manager of rare books and special collections at the UBC library, felt that with so few copies left in private hands, the library should act when the opportunity to acquire one arises in 2021.

“The First Folio is a cornerstone of English literature and with this donation we are able to make this cultural treasure publicly owned,” Kalsbeek said in a statement.

WATCH | Find out more about the First Folio acquired by UBC:

Purchased through Christie’s auction house

According to a university statement, only 235 copies of the First Folio remain in the world, mostly in the UK and US. The nine copies in the West Coast Public Collections are all in California.

“It’s truly a gift, not only to UBC, but also to the city of Vancouver and the many people in the area who appreciate Shakespeare,” Kalsbeek said.

UBC purchased the First Folio, previously owned by a private collector in the United States, through Christie’s New York, with funding from a consortium of donors from across North America and with the generous support from the Department of Canadian Heritage.

According to the university, the price of its newly acquired copy cannot be shared as part of the purchase agreement with Christie’s.

An October 2020 statement from Christie’s shows that the auction house sold a different copy of the First Folio at that time for just under US $ 10 million.

Copy not in perfect condition

Gregory Mackie, associate professor in UBC’s English language and literatures department, said while the price of the First Folio was not disclosed, it was significantly lower than the copy sold at the October auction. 2020.

Mackie told CBC On the coast host Gloria Macarenko, whose copies that fetch incredibly high prices are usually in mint condition and often appeal to collectors. The copy purchased by UBC is not in perfect condition, Mackie added, but that adds to its appeal.

“For us – for universities, for institutions, for academics and students – the books that have been manipulated over the centuries are much more interesting. And this one has been manipulated in a really, really fascinating way. “

Mackie said a page at the beginning of the book containing a poem dedicated to Shakespeare was lost.

“It was replaced later in the 18th century by a sheet from a different book, a second edition that had belonged to another great writer – to Samuel Johnson, Shakespeare’s dictionary and editor,” he said. declared.

On the coast8:50 a.m.UBC acquires rare Shakespeare First Folio

UBC English professor Gregory Mackie explains how the university acquired a copy of Shakespeare’s first folio and why anyone can get a chance to see it. 8:50 a.m.

Literature enthusiasts can see the First Folio on display at the Vancouver Art Gallery from January 12 to March 20.

The work is presented with three subsequent 17th-century folio editions of Shakespeare’s plays, as part of a new exhibition titled For All Time – Shakespeare’s FIRST FOLIO.

“It has inspired people around the world in multiple languages, in many cultures for almost 400 years,” Mackie said.

“It is one of the most important books ever printed and arguably one of the most influential books… in English ever printed,” he said.

And it is also one of those magical and talismanic objects to which people react with admiration. I saw it coming. It’s true.”


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