About the Library


Pay Your Fines Online
Federal Depository Library Info

You are here

Shakespeare's Folios on Display @ Central Library - Free

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version
Shakespeare's Folio

Complete Set of Shakespeare’s Folios on Display at

Central Library

“Celebrating 400 Years of Shakespeare: Reflecting on the Life of the Bard” part of year-long “Buffalo Bard 2016” Collaboration

The Downtown Central Library, 1 Lafayette Square, Buffalo, is offering a free exhibition on esteemed English playwright, poet and actor William Shakespeare.  Featuring the Library’s complete set of Shakespeare’s four Folios, and works that may have influenced him, the exhibit is up now through January 2017. 

Celebrating 400 Years of Shakespeare: Reflecting on the Life of the Bard is a component of “Buffalo Bard 2016,” the multi-organization collaboration taking place throughout Buffalo all this year, marking the anniversary of 400 years since Shakespeare’s death in 1616.

Regarded as the foremost dramatist of his time, William Shakespeare penned more than thirty plays and more than one hundred sonnets, all written in the form of three quatrains and a couplet that is now recognized as Shakespearean.  The Library’s Folios 1-4 are considered among the most influential publications of all time.  The First Folio, published in 1623, six years after Shakespeare’s death, is the first time his plays were collected and published, rescuing a number of them familiar to us today from being lost forever.  First Folios are today considered rare and much sought after, there being only 200 or so in existence.  Subsequent publications of the plays -- Second Folio (1632), Third Folio (1664), and Fourth Folio (1685) – are equally important for the additional plays included in them. The Library’s Folios on display were a gift in 1924 from Buffalonian Colonel Charles Clifton, collector, arts patron and Pierce Arrow Motor Car Chairman.  The story of the Folios and the Clifton gift is included in the Library’s exhibition. 

Also contained in the exhibition are a number of additional rare and first-edition books held in the Library’s collections that were likely known to Shakespeare and would have been influential in his writing.  These include published histories such as Raphael Holinshed’s The Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland (1587); important Bibles and The Book of Common Prayer (1559); influential literature such as Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene and works by Plutarch, Ben Jonson, Chaucer, and Seneca; and publications on new scientific ideas including Galileo’s Starry Messenger (1610), William Gilbert’s studies of magnetism (1600) and Sir Francis Bacon’s philosophy of science Novum Organum (1620).  Illustrations of places known to Shakespeare and portraits of important people of his time are included.  Click here to see photos of the Library’s Rare Book Shakespeare exhibit http://www.buffalolib.org/content/now-display/rare-book-room/shakespeare.

Celebrating 400 Years of Shakespeare: Reflecting on the Life of the Bard is an excellent companion piece to the Downtown Library’s largest-ever exhibition Milestones of Science: Books That Shook the World! also open and free to the public on the Library’s second floor during regular hours.  Special tours of either or both exhibitions can be arranged at no charge for student or organization groups by calling 716-858-7100.  For more information about these exhibitions or Library programs, visit www.BuffaloLib.org or call 716-858-8900.  Additional 2016 communitywide Buffalo Bard activities can be found at https://BuffaloBard.wordpress.com.