Shakespeare Exhibition: Beyond Macbeth


Our new exhibition Beyond Macbeth: Shakespeare in Scottish Collections is now open!

Open copy of the First Folio, the first collected edition of Shakespeare's plays

This exhibition is a collaboration with the University of Edinburgh, showcasing the two libraries’ world-class collections of early editions of Shakespeare’s plays, other early modern drama, and manuscripts relating to the study of Shakespeare.

On display are the First Folio, the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays published in 1623, and over 30 Quartos – the small early editions of the plays. You can also see manuscripts and other playbooks from the age of Shakespeare, and a range of other books and manuscripts showing the different ways in which people have edited, appropriated, and responded to the playwright over the centuries – including a special section on Scotland and Shakespeare.

At the heart of this exhibition are the stories of the people who brought these collections together over four hundred years –

  • William Drummond of Hawthornden, Shakespeare’s contemporary, who provides us with a rare opportunity to see how Shakespeare’s earliest admirers responded to his plays
  • Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and the Bute family, aristocrats whose collection shows the rise of Shakespeare’s cultural status in the 18th century – from a playwright whose plays were popular but adapted and criticized to a literary giant, early editions of whose plays were ornaments of a bibliophile’s library
  • James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps, an archetypal Victorian antiquarian, whose passion for discovering as much as possible about the life and times of Shakespeare led him to amass a huge array of Shakespeariana, and who donated a substantial collection to the Library of Edinburgh University
  • John Dover Wilson, 20th-century academic, whose passion for Shakespeare led him not only to pursue his own scholarly research, but to share his knowledge with the vast array of correspondents from actors to politicians who wrote to him on the subject.

The exhibition runs until April 29th and is free. Read more on our exhibition webpage.

I hope to blog some more about the exhibition and the items in it during its run, but meanwhile I have to thank my co-curator, James Loxley, of the University English Literature department, and the staff of the University Library for all their help with this exhibition. And of course the Arts and Humanities  Research Council, for their generous funding.