Well . . . sorta. Small impediment to getting Shakespeare here in the States is the somewhat unavoidable fact that he is dead. As a proverbial doorknob. But that doesn’t mean that pieces of him don’t go walkabout from time to time. Case in point, the national touring exhibition First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare. This folio is a book called Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies and was originally published in 1623. In it you can find 36 Shakespeare plays and it is generally considered to be the only reliable text for about twenty of his plays. Now this shockingly rare folio (which contains every Shakespeare play, with the exception of the two lost ones) is on loan from the Folger Shakespeare Library. For those of you who are curious the folio is on display at the Lake County Forest Preserve District’s Lake County Discovery Museum (Wauconda, IL) during the month of February, 2016.
Naturally, we Illinois libraries are just the teensiest bit psyched about this. It is not every day that Shakespeare comes waltzing into your state, after all.
To properly honor The Bard, EPL is joining with libraries across the state in the collaborative reading and program initiative,#DiscoverWill: Illinois Libraries Celebrate Shakespeare’s First Folio. Six programs doing Will justice will include discussions for adults, and crafts and films for teens. You can see the roster in whole here.
Naturally, I thought a booklist was in order as well. Here then are some of our newest Shakespeare-related titles.
The Millionaire and the Bard by Andrea Mays – Since the first folio is not too far away it seems now would be the perfect time to delve into its true-life story. Mays’s book tells the miraculous and romantic story of the making of the First Folio, and of Henry Folger, the American industrialist whose thrilling pursuit of the book became a lifelong obsession.
Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned prequel? In Beatrice and Benedick by Marina Fiorata we get the inside scoop on exactly what Much Ado About Nothing‘s lovers got up to before the events of the play.
Very much along the same lines is Howard Jacobson’s Shylock Is My Name. A reimagining of the The Merchant of Venice, Jacobson set his tale in present-day suburban Manchester. Intrigued? Check it out.
Ever wonder how Shakespeare went global? Worlds Elsewhere: Journeys Around Shakespeare’s Globe by Andrew Dickson seeks to answer that very question. Or, as the book’s description puts it, “Dickson takes us on an extraordinary journey-from Hamlet performed by English actors tramping through Poland in the early 1600s to twenty-first century Shanghai, where Shashibiya survived Mao’s Cultural Revolution to become an honored Chinese author. En route we visit Nazi Germany, where Shakespeare became an unlikely favorite, and delve into the history of Bollywood, where Shakespearian stories helped give birth to Indian cinema.”
The Shakespeare Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained, edited by Stanley Wells, is one of those books that appeals to hard-core Shakespeare fans as well as more tentative newcomers. Nothing wrong with that.
For more information about the folio’s trip check out the Chicago Tribune article Lake County museum the only Illinois stop for $6 million Shakespeare Collection.
And follow all the Illinois Shakespeare events at the Twitter hashtag #discoverwill.