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Treasures of the Library : Shakespeare First Folio

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616

Treasures of the Library

<p style='text-align: justify;'>Shakespeare based many of his plots on the lives and deaths of historical rulers: titles of his plays name one Roman emperor, one queen of Egypt, one king in Britain (Cymbeline, or Cunobelinus, rather than the better-known King Lear, the latter being most likely an invention of Geoffrey of Monmouth), one king of Scots and seven kings of England. His cycle of plays dealing with the contention between the English royal houses of York and Lancaster in the fifteenth century culminates with <i>Richard the third</i>, thought to have been composed around 1592. The historical plays continue to influence our view of actual events today. By drawing on propagandistic Tudor accounts of the last Plantagenet monarch, Shakespeare popularised a vigorously disputed version of Richard’s character and physiognomy: the prevailing view of the king as an ugly, scheming tyrant owes much to Shakespeare’s depiction of him. This copy of the First Folio was given to Cambridge University Library by Samuel Sandars (1837–1894), who also endowed the Sandars Readership in Bibliography at the Library.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>Shakespeare’s anniversary year of 2016 is being celebrated around the world with exhibitions, theatre productions and other events. Details of events taking place in the UK can be seen at <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''></a>.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>This item was included in the Library’s 600th anniversary exhibition <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''><i>Lines of Thought: Discoveries that changed the world</i></a>.</p>

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