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The First Folio Coming To Madison!

April 10, 2016

It has been a long time since I have used the expression of just being “a boy from Hancock”.    I used the phrase often over the early years of my adulthood when something truly grand occurred that in my wildest dreams could never have been imaged as a kid.  It was used as a way to underscore my path forward in the world.

Covering President Reagan for WDOR from the same risers as that of the national press was such a time.   Over the years I have used the phrase when considering many different personal journeys in my life.  But somewhere along the way so many wonderful events have taken place that not being able to fathom they could ever happen has lessened for me.  We do not forget the past–but instead embrace the present.

But when I read the front page of today’s Wisconsin State Journal being a ‘boy from Hancock’ again flashed in my mind.   I could not believe what was printed on the page. Or that it was happening on the isthmus where we live.

The First Folio, a printed collection of William Shakespeare’s plays that dates back to 1623, is scheduled to arrive in November and will be on display for nearly six weeks at the Chazen Museum of Art.  

Simply WOW!

A nearly 400-year-old collection of William Shakespeare’s plays will be on display right here in Madison, the only stop for it in Wisconsin.  And within walking distance of where James and I live.  This project is to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.  

The First Folio coming to Madison is actually one of 234 known copies worldwide (the discovery of the latest one, on a small Scottish island, was revealed only this week).

When Shakespeare died in 1616, only about half of his plays had been published, and those were in small, one-play editions called quartos. Shakespeare’s friends and fellow actors John Heminge and Henry Condell published 36 of his plays in a larger format, called a folio.

Half of those plays — including “Macbeth,” “Julius Caesar,” “As You Like It,” and 15 others — had never been published before, and likely would have been lost if not for the First Folio. The significance of the book cannot be understated.

The book will be delivered to the museum’s second-floor Garfield galleries by a Folger courier, and displayed in a specially designed glass case. It will lie open to the page bearing Hamlet’s famed “To be or not to be” speech.

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