Shakespeare's First Folio in Stonyhurst College museum display

A page from the first folio with an image of ShakespeareImage copyright
Stonyhurst College

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Most of Shakespeare’s plays were collected for the First Folio

A rare first edition of William Shakespeare’s works has gone on display in a new museum at a public school.

The copy of the 1623 First Folio – the first printed collection of his plays – is on show at the Old Chapel Museum in Stonyhurst College in Lancashire.

It sits alongside items that belonged to Tudor and Stuart royalty

A spokeswoman for the school, near Clitheroe, said the museum was “the culmination of five years of conservation work and research”.

The copy of the folio was bequeathed to the institution by former pupil Lord Arundel.

William Shakespeare’s First Folio

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  • The Bard wrote about 37 plays, 36 of which are contained in the First Folio
  • It was compiled seven years after his death by his fellow actors and friends John Heminges and Henry Condell
  • It is the only source for 18 of his plays, including Macbeth
  • The folio is credited with being the reason his literary legacy survived
  • It is thought that about 800 copies were produced, of which 233 are believed to still exist

Another copy of the folio – said to be the most important work in English literature – had been in the collection of the college, which began near Calais in 1593 to provide a Catholic education for English boys.

However that “well-used” edition remains in France, believed to have been “overlooked” when the college was ordered to leave the country in 1762, before eventually moving to its present home in Lancashire in 1794.

The exhibits also include a Victoria Cross awarded to a former pupil and possessions of Henry VII, Mary Queen of Scots, and Prince Charles Edward Stuart, better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie.

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John Darch/Geograph

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Stonyhurst College’s former pupils include Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Yvonne Herrick, the college’s development director, said: “The displays circle the globe, from prehistory to ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, bringing the visitor through 5,000 years of civilisation right up until the turning of the present century.”

The prestigious school was attended by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes novels, and appeared in the 1990 hit film Three Men and a Little Lady.

The museum is open to the public for pre-booked tours.

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