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The University of London Celebrates Shakespeare Month


This month, the University of London will focus on all things Shakespeare.

This February, Senate House Library celebrates the literary legacy of England's most iconic writer, William Shakespeare. As the home of not just one but two copies of Shakespeare's 1623 First Folio, we proudly showcase these literary gems alongside a trove of other Bardic treasures.

Visitors can glimpse the First Folios in person during special displays on 31 January and 8, 22 and 28 February from 9:30am-6.00pm as part of the Library’s Shakespeare’s First Folios: a 400-year journey exhibition. Tracking the volume through facsimiles, reprints and prized collector's items, the exhibition celebrates the Folio's history and the preservation of Shakespeare's works.

On 22 February, experience history come alive at our star-studded Shakespeare's First Folio: Bringing the Book Alive event. Leading actors, including Samantha Bond, David Horovitch and Joanna David will perform dramatic readings, while contemporary poets, including Daljit Nagra, will debut exciting new works inspired by Shakespeare. 

We'll also explore Shakespeare's timeless Sonnets through an LGBTQ lens for LGBTQ+ History Month. Did you know that 126 of Shakespeare’s sonnets express love for a young man, the “Fair Youth”? This includes Sonnet 18’s opening line “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” which is one of the most famous in English literature. Follow the campaign on our social media channels using #ShakespeareSHL as we delve into Senate House Library’s various publications and collections relating to the sonnets. 

To B-loomsbury or not to B-loomsbury

Shakespeare also has special links to our neighbourhood of Bloomsbury. In 1916, plans were made for a National Shakespeare Memorial Theatre here, though WWI intervened and during the war, a Shakespeare Hut on Gower Street entertained Anzac troops with renditions of the Bard’s most famous works. Amongst its collections, Senate House Library, holds a copy of a souvenir programme given to attendees of a 1911 Shakespeare Ball, which aimed to raise funds for the Bloomsbury National Shakespeare Memorial Theatre. 

Beyond the First Folio spotlight, our archives contain a wealth of Shakespeare materials. We own copies of the second, third and fourth Folios. You'll also find early Quarto editions of seminal works like Pericles (1609), as well as manuscripts annotated by later literary admirers. There are even historical artefacts like a branch from the mulberry tree at Shakespeare's Stratford home.

Follow our social media channels for regular Shakespeare updates. From the famed writer himself to those still influenced by his works centuries on, Senate House Library brings the enthralling world of Shakespeare to life.

Stay tuned in February for more adventures as we delve deep into England's literary history!