First Folio Day: the Bard at the Bod

A black and white drawing of Shakespeare from the title page of the First Folio


First Folio Day: the Bard at the Bod

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  Saturday 4 March 2023

  10.30am – 3.30pm

 Blackwell Hall, Weston Library

 Free, just drop in

About the event

Join us at the Weston Library to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the publication of Shakespeare’s First Folio. Enjoy taster talks, hands-on activities, discussion and pop-up performance.

Talks: Sir Victor Blank Lecture Theatre

“You must case me in leather”: the Bodleian’s First Folio as a material book

Andrew Honey, Book Conservator: Research and Teaching. Andrew has studied the binding and paper quality of the Bodleian’s First Folio.

“Shreds and Patches”: the conservation – or not – of the Bodleian’s First Folio

Nicole Gilroy, Head of Book Conservation, and leader of the Sprint for Shakespeare Conservation team in 2012

What is the First Folio and why should I care?

Emma Smith, Professor of Shakespeare Studies, provides a short illustrated introduction to this book – so you can see how it was put together, its relationship to the performed plays, the difficulties of its production, and some of the typos and other errors. She offers a counterfactual: what would be different if we did not have the First Folio? 

Activities in Blackwell Hall

Living Library, 10.30am–12.30pm

Borrow a ‘living book’ from the Living Library to explore Shakespeare, his works and early modern book production. Featuring:

  • All about Shakespeare: whatever your questions, drop into the Shakespeare Clinic with Emma Smith (Professor of Shakespeare Studies, University of Oxford)
  • Infinite Variety: 400 years of Shakespeare’s women with Dr Sophie Duncan (Research Fellow, Magdalen College, University of Oxford)
  • The Folio and the Construction of Shakespearean Authorship with Dr Amy Lidster (Lecturer in English, University of Oxford)
  • Shakespeare’s Other Book: The Collected Poems (or ‘Cavalier Shakespeare’) of 1640 with Dr Philip West (Associate Professor, English Faculty, University of Oxford)
  • © Shakespeare, 1623 with Ian Gadd (Professor in English Literature, Bath Spa University)
  • Difference Engines: Collating the First Folio with Dr Giles Bergel (Senior Researcher in Digital Humanities, University of Oxford)

Creative activities, 10.30am–3.30pm

  • Will's Quills: Discover how quills are made and try writing like Shakespeare. With Gary McCann, the Marquess of Winchester Regiment.
  • DIY Shakespeare: Create your own original story inspired by Shakespeare’s plays
  • Puppet Characters: Make a finger puppet of a Shakespearean character
  • Print a bookmark: Print a quotation bookmark as a keepsake
  • Take a Shakespeare Selfie

Printing, 400 Years Ago, 11.30am–3.30pm

Try your hand at printing a page of Shakespeare plays.

Pop-up Shakespeare performances, 1.15pm & 3.15pm

Monologues performed by members of Oxford University Dramatic Society

Uncover Oxford’s links to Shakespeare with our location map

Sheldon Tapestry Map, 11.30am–12.30pm and 2pm–2.15pm

Made at a time when Shakespeare was beginning a successful career in London as an actor and playwright, these tapestries from around 1590 show the countryside that the poet would have journeyed through to reach London from his home in Stratford-upon-Avon. Both London and Oxford are recognisable, as are a number of other locations such as Windsor Castle and the Uffington White Horse. The tapestry on display is one of four made that together show central England.

Discover more with Stuart Ackland, Principal Library Assistant, Bodleian Map Room.

Shakespeare Maps Show and Tell, 1pm–1.45pm & 2.30pm–3.15pm

Limited places, sign up on arrival

Locations play an important part in Shakespeare’s plays, written at a time when printing and exploration together led to the start of a golden age of map production. We show here contemporary maps which link with Shakespeare’s life and works.

Thou Art Translated display

Visit Thou Art Translated, a display in Blackwell Hall of texts by The Bard in other languages, including Bengali, Tagalog, Swahili and even Klingon.


Blackwell Hall, Weston Library, Broad Street, Oxford, OX1 3BG

 Wheelchair access

The Weston Library is wheelchair accessible.


The Bodleian Libraries Learning Programme is generously supported by The Helen Hamlyn Trust:

The Helen Hamlyn Trust logo

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