The First Folio is one of the great wonders of the literary world. Published in 1623, seven years after the death of its author, it was the first printed edition of Shakespeare’s collected plays.

Of the 235 known to have survived, 50 copies are still in the UK – one of those was purchased by Sir John Soane in 1825 and remains in the collection. To celebrate the 400th birthday of this literary landmark, join Emma Smith, Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Hertford College, Oxford for a talk which will focus on how this book was produced, and on what is special about the Soane copy in particular.

You will have an opportunity to view Soane’s copy of the First Folio before and after the talk and hear about its provenance from Sue Palmer, the Museum’s Archivist and Head of Library Services. Emma’s talk will be followed by a drinks reception in the South Drawing Room.

About the speaker

Emma Smith is Professor of Shakespeare Studies at Hertford College, Oxford, and the author of two books on Shakespeare’s First Folio. Her most recent book, Portable Magic: A History of Books and their Readers, is on the 2023 Wolfson History Prize shortlist. She is an Associate Scholar at the Royal Shakespeare Company and the 2023 Sam Wanamaker Fellow at Shakespeare’s Globe.

About the event

Tuesday 31 October, 2023

Doors open at 18,30
Talk 19.00 - 20.00
Drinks reception 20.00 - 20.30

We are in a Grade I listed, 19th-century building, so access is not always straightforward. If you require step-free access or extra assistance, please contact us in advance of your booking on or 020 7405 2107.

Your confirmation email serves as your ticket.

Tickets are refundable up to 7 days before the event, after which point they are non-refundable or exchangeable.