First printed collection of Shakespeare’s work goes on display in Smethwick for first time

It was a moment in history as the first printed collection of William Shakespeare’s work was put on display in Smethwick for the first time ever.

Carman McLean, 10, and Liberty McLean, eight, from Smethwick with Shakespeare's First Folio
Carman McLean, 10, and Liberty McLean, eight, from Smethwick with Shakespeare's First Folio

The bard’s folio was brought to the Dorothy Parkes Centre on Saturday as part of an arts programme.

The showcase at the community centre was held in partnership with Bearwood Community Hub, Arts Council England, Everything to Everybody and Black Country Touring.

Attractions included a one-man King Lear performance by Oddbodies Theatre Company, workshops, a reading corner, poetry and Elizabethan performers.

Throughout the day, pages from the Folio were also shown on a projector screen.

Shakespeare's First Folio

One of the greatest treasures in Birmingham’s Shakespeare collection is a copy of the First Folio and it will be 400-years-old in November.

The collection is housed in the Library of Birmingham, but the First Folio is touring community spaces this year as part of the University of Birmingham and Birmingham City Council’s 'Everything to Everybody' project.

Robert Bruce, CEO of Dorothy Parkes Centre, said: "It's an historic occasion and it's brought the community together. It's been a very successful event."

Spectra based in Smethwick
Grace Binnie, seven, and mum Rachel Moss from Bearwood

Sally Taylor, managing director of Bearwood Community Hub, added: "It's really important.

"It's about making sure great art can be experienced anywhere.

"Why should people have to travel? People don't necessarily have the money to do that.

"It's also gotten people together. We've seen all ages and people from all backgrounds. There has been something for everyone."

Talitha Waldron Hayes, eight, from Bearwood

Birmingham’s copy of the First Folio is unique because it is the only one bought as part of a dedicated programme for improving people’s lives through culture and education.

It was purchased in 1881 for all the people of Birmingham - no matter what their background, wealth or occupation.

The Folio will next appear in public at Handsworth Library on June 19.

The First Folio tour is aimed at raising awareness of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Memorial Library.

Founded in 1864, the collection of more than 100,000 items is both the first major Shakespeare library in the world and also the only extensive Shakespeare collection which belongs to the people of a city.

Visit for more information.

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