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Elizabethtown College Only Spot in PA to View Shakespeare’s First Folio

Apr 3rd, 2015 | By | Category: Front Page, News

Out of more than 100 applicants accepted in October 2014, Elizabethtown College was chosen as the only stop in Pennsylvania for the Shakespeare and His First Folio: A Traveling Exhibition, which brings the original printed copy of William Shakespeare’s work to Elizabethtown College. Over the course of 2016, the Folio will travel to 53 locations – one site in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The First Folio, a book consisting of 900 pages of material printed on some of the first paper ever produced in Europe = it was imported to England from France – contains 18 of Shakespeare’s 38 plays, including “The Tempest,” “Macbeth,” “Twelfth Night” and “As You Like It.” Louise Hyder-Darlington, access services librarian at the High Library, said the College developed several narratives answering questions put together by Folger Shakespeare Library, home to the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, including what kind of programming E-town planned to include and how the College would work to educate the Elizabethtown community.

On display from Nov. 8 to Dec 5, 2016, the exhibition features the 1623 original edition of Shakespeare’s first published collection, Mr. William Shakespeares (sic) Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies. The Folio is offered by the American Library Association Public Programs Office in collaboration with Folger and Cincinnati Museum Center.

Without these folios we wouldn’t have Shakespeare in our lives.”

Shakespeare and His First Folio is E-town’s second major exhibition, following the King James showcase the College hosted three years ago. That previous experience helped elevate E-town in the selection process. Security measures factored heavily into the application process, as well. “We’re getting a 17th-century First Folio, of which there are only 200 in the world,” Hyder-Darlington said. “Folger has 82.”

Earlier this year, the High Library completed construction on a temperature-controlled archive, and the library houses a 16th-century Saur Bible, a first translation from German to English, in its collection. The archive and items currently in place offered proof to Folger that E-town could house the First Folio.

Hyder-Darlington said the High Library staff will compile supplementary materials from its own collection and develop a suggested reading list for the exhibition. Six interpretive panels accompany the First Folio, containing information about Shakespeare’s life, his plays and his other works. Each First Folio location also is encouraged to develop its own original programming. “We’ve got the framework, but there’s a lot of popular interest in it and people wanting in,” Hyder-Darlington said. Several professors have proposed programming, including a showing of Ran, a Japanese film based on King Lear and set in feudal Japan.

The First Folio will be opened to the To Be or Not To Be soliloquy from “Hamlet,” one of the best known speeches from one of the best known works of fiction in the English language. The language is the tough part to get through, Hyder-Darlington said of Shakespeare’s writing. “But the stories are timeless and magnetic … Without these folios we wouldn’t have Shakespeare in our lives.”

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About the Author :

Emily Vasas is an intern in the Elizabethtown College Office of Marketing and Communications, writing for E-town NOW. She is a senior with a double major in English – Professional Writing and History. She also works as a copy editor and writer for the Features section on the Etownian, the campus newspaper, and tutors for Western Civilization courses and Writing.

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