First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare

Location: Hesburgh Library


From January 6 through January 30, 2016, the University of Notre Dame hosted an exhibition of William Shakespeare’s First Folio.

firstfolioOne of the world’s rarest and most treasured books, the First Folio is the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays. It was displayed in Notre Dame's Hesburgh Library during a nationwide traveling exhibition entitled “First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare,” sponsored by the Folger Shakespeare Library in partnership with the Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association and hosted by Shakespeare at Notre Dame.

The exhibition, announced by the Folger Shakespeare Library on Thursday (April 23), Shakespeare’s 451st birthday, was one of numerous events planned worldwide for 2016, the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

When it was published in 1623, the First Folio could be purchased for 20 shillings, roughly $200 today. Since then it has become one of the most valuable printed books in the world; a First Folio sold for $6.2 million in 2001 at Christie’s and another one for $5.2 million in 2006 in London.

In the Notre Dame exhibition of the First Folio, the book’s pages were opened to the most familiar of all Shakespearean lines; “To be or not to be” from Hamlet’s soliloquy. The exhibition included digital and interactive features on Shakespeare’s life, times and work, and several public events presented by Shakespeare at Notre Dame including the 2016 annual meeting of the Shakespeare Theatre Association (STA).

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Wednesday, January 6 at 4:16pm
Rare Books & Special Collections, Hesburgh Library

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's legacy (1616-2016), the ribbon cutting ceremony will take place at exactly 16:16 on 1/6/16, a numerical tribute to the enduring impact his words and works have had on our world for four centuries.

Regular Exhibit Hours

Day Time
Monday-Friday* 9:00am - 7:00pm
Saturday-Sunday 12:00pm - 5:00pm

*On the four Actors From The London Stage performance dates – January 20, 21, 22, and 29 – the exbibit will be open until 7:15pm to allow for preshow tours.

Guided Tours

Guided tours of the First Folio exhibit will be offered daily by Hesburgh librarians and curators at the following times:

Day Time
Monday, Wednesday, and Friday 3:30pm
Tuesday and Thursday NOON
Saturday and Sunday 2:00pm

Tours will meet by the entrance to the Rare Books and Special Collections Department (102 Hesburgh Library, first floor). Reservations are not necessary. If you are planning to bring a group, please feel free to alert the Hesburgh directly about your visit: or 574- 631-0290. Times are subject to change. Please consult the Hesburgh's Rare Books and Special Collections Website prior to your visit.

"Folio Fridays" Lecture Series

Day Time Lecturer Lecture Title Location
Jan 8 4:00pm Jesse Lander:
Chair, Department of English
Printed Shakespeare:
Quartos, Folios, and the History of Books
Rare Books and
Special Collections
Jan 15    4:00pm Elliott Visconsi:
Chief Academic Digital Officer
Mobile Shakespeare Rare Books and
Special Collections
Jan 22    4:00pm Peter Holland:
McMeel Family Chair in
Shakespeare Studies
Mr. William Shakespeare’s
Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies
Carey Auditorium
Jan 29    4:00pm Michael Witmore:
Director, Folger Shakespeare Library
Centuries of Shakespeare Carey Auditorium

All four 90-minute lectures are free, open to the public, and located within the Hesburgh Library.


As part of "First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare," Shakespeare at Notre Dame will be offering a series of workshops to students, teachers, and families. Please email General Manager Debra Gasper at or call 574.631.2273 to learn more about available sessions and times.

Shakespeare Week: January 18–22

During the third week of the First Folio exhibit – Monday, January 18 through Friday, January 22 – there will be increased traffic from 9am–3pm. Shakespeare at Notre Dame will be leading 90-minute encounters with over 1000 students from throughout Indiana and Southern Michigan. Please be aware that access to the First Folio exhibit will be limited during this time.


Media Coverage


Published on Jan 7, 2016 by the University of Notre Dame's College of Arts and Letters

At exactly 16:16 (4:16pm) on January 6, 2016, our “First Folio! The Book that Gave us Shakespeare” exhibit curated by the Folger Shakespeare Library, opened at the University of Notre Dame with a special ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring John McGreevy, dean of Notre Dame's College of Arts and Letters; South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg; Diane Parr Walker, Edward H. Arnold University Librarian, Hesburgh Libraries; the Rev. John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame; and Scott Jackson, executive director of Shakespeare at Notre Dame. “First Folio! The Book that Gave us Shakespeare” is a 50-state tour and exhibit of Shakespeare’s 1623 First Folio, the first published collection of 36 of his plays and one of the world’s most treasured books. Notre Dame marks the official first stop of the First Folio national tour and serves as the sole Indiana venue for the exhibition. The exhibition, which runs Jan. 6-29, will be housed in the Rare Books and Special Collections gallery of the Hesburgh Library. Select Notre Dame Shakespeare holdings will also be on display, and curators will offer daily, guided tours.


WNDU (NBC Evening News Feature, 1/6/16)

WSBT (CBS Evening News Feature, 1/6/16)

ABC57 (Evening News Feature, 1/6/16)


WVPE (Morning Edition Local Feature, 1/6/16)


Chicago Tribune (1/21/16)

Associated Press (1/6/16)

South Bend Tribune (Cover Story, 1/7/16)

Elkhart Truth (News Article, 1/7/16)


Notre Dame Magazine (1/8/16)

American Libraries Magazine (2/3/16)

University of Notre Dame Web Features (1/6/16)