The First Folio: Shakespeare for All Time?

Graphic image with partial etching of Shakespeare's face on red background with the words "The First Folio: Shakespeare for All Time?" in white lettering surprinting on the right side of his face. A grey banner across top reads, Hanke Exhibition Gallery

Monday, August 21, 2023 - 12:00pm to Sunday, February 11, 2024 - 12:00am
Sterling Memorial Library
120 High Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Open to: 

This exhibit celebrates a portion of the Elizabethan Club’s rare book collections, largely assembled in the early 1910s by Alexander Smith Cochran, BA 1896, a young alumnus inspired by the Shakespeare lectures he attended while a student at Yale.

The exhibit constellates around William Shakespeare’s First Folio (1623) but tells a broader story, foregrounding early modern printers, 20th-century bibliographers, and booksellers today.

The First Folio established Shakespeare’s iconic status, but its longer history reminds us that Shakespeare’s position as valuable cultural property today—with early editions that can sell for exorbitant sums—was not necessarily inevitable.