How do we know Shakespeare's plays? For many of them, the answer is one book: the 1623 First Folio. Without it, 18 plays, including Macbeth and The Tempest, could have been lost. In 2016, First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare brings the First Folio to 50 states, Washington, and Puerto Rico. 

Read a full digital version of one of the Folger’s First Folios

Part of the Wonder of Will: 400 Years of Shakespeare

What's Happening on the Tour

View a selection of the exciting events happening around the country with First Folio!

September 16th
The University of Iowa Libraries, IA
Dost Thou Speak Masterly? Closing Celebration
September 22nd
University of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV
“Bring Out Your dead!”: Cashing in on Shakespeare in the First Folio
September 22nd
Wyoming State Museum, WY
From Star Wars to Hamlet: What Did Shakespeare Write?
September 23rd
University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
Musical performance of “Shakespeare’s Songbook” and “Tallis’s Spem in alium”
September 24th
University of Delaware, DE
How I Came To Love Shakespeare: a one-man interactive performance

What Scholars Are Saying

Insights from the national scholarly community exploring Shakespeare in this anniversary year

Some of Shakespeare’s most famous plays are medieval because he understood how the past shapes the present. He made history matter to his audience, as he made it matter to me four hundred years later.

- Kenneth Hodges, Professor of English at the University of Oklahoma. He works primarily on late medieval and early modern chivalry, especially Malory and Spenser.

When I read and teach Macbeth the language transforms into a glorious machine—gears turning, maneuvering the audience to discoveries and understanding at precisely the right moments.

- Lindsay Cummings, Assistant Professor of Dramatic Arts at the University of Connecticut. Her scholarly interests include affect theory, feminist performance, and community-based performance.

For all the claims over four centuries that his influence would soon wane because his language is too challenging, Shakespeare may always be understood so long as people have the capacity, or desire, to feel, to lose themselves, to understand, and to be understood.

- Robert B. Hornback, Associate Professor of English, Comparative Literatures, and Theater and Chair of the Department of English at Oglethorpe University. He created Oglethorpe’s one-of-a-kind, interdisciplinary “Minor in Shakespeare and Renaissance Studies.”

Folger Education and the First Folio

At the Folger Shakespeare Library, we create experiences, transform education, and drive discovery. In 2016, join us on an exploration through Shakespeare’s most famous book, the First Folio.

Are you a Teacher?

The Folger is revolutionizing the way Shakespeare is taught in classrooms. Discover the extra dimensions that the First Folio can bring to Shakespeare – for you and your students.

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Are you a Family – Parents and Kids Together?
The First Folio starts you on an exciting exploration—families can move, play, speak, engage, and above all, have fun with Shakespeare.

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Gravedigger's Tale

Travelling in conjunction with the First Folio Tour, the story of Hamlet is told by the Gravedigger using Shakespeare's moving words and with help from the audience in Gravedigger's Tale.

Conceived and directed by Robert Richmond.

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First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare



has been made possible by a major grant from the

and by the support of