I recently read that William Shakespeare was born and died on the same day of the month, April 23 (1564 -1616). It piqued my interest and made me wonder what resources on Shakespeare are available at the library.

Shakespeare-folioThe Dallas Public library has a superb collection of Shakespeare resources.  The prominent treasure of the collection is a copy of Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies (often called the First Folio) printed in 1623. This first complete printing of Shakespeare’s plays was donated to the library by the Dallas Shakespeare Club in 1986 and is on public display on the 7th floor of the Central Library.  It is one of only 250 copies remaining of the 1,200 first editions printed following Shakespeare’s death. Curiously, these plays were never printed during the author’s lifetime, since it was felt that access to printed copies might reduce the number of people who would pay to see the plays performed. Following his death John Hemenge and Henry Condell, members of his acting company and co-investors in the Globe Theatre, became concerned when some plays were being published in corrupted versions while others seemed in danger of being lost completely.  Relying mainly on promptbook scripts and their own intimate knowledge of the work, they compiled and published first, definitive collection of his theatrical works.  For more information on Shakespeare’s First Folio, and the effort to make it available online, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Folio and http://shakespeare.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/

In addition to this public exhibit of Shakespeare’s First Folio, The Humanities Division has more than 2000 titles by or about William Shakespeare.  The holdings include the complete collection of BBC-produced plays on DVD, often considered the definitive productions available on DVD today.  Additionally, the library holds multiple print editions of both the plays and the poetry, as well as radio recordings and audio book versions of almost all the works.  The Fine Arts Division also offers many film adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays.  Beyond the works themselves, the two divisions also provide significant collections of analysis and criticism for various levels of readership, historic background, and many works designed to help actors and companies prepare theatrical and/or film versions of the plays.

Check out what we have in our catalog and don’t forget you can always request to have items sent to your nearest branch to pickup if you are unable to visit us in person downtown.

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