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Will's testament

Posted by David Mehegan  July 24, 2008 11:13 AM

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Do you love Shakespeare? Right now, the Boston Public Library has one of its delicious small exhibitions in the third floor rare-book room: "All the World's a Page: 400 Years of Shakespeare in Print," continuing through Sept. 30. In a row of glass cases along the walls, in safely dim light, are bound editions of William Shakepeare's works, including the famous 1623 First Folio and even earlier quarto editions.

The historic notes, describing disputes over authenticity of various texts, and resolutions thereof, are fascinating. Also on display is a copy of Holinshed's Chronicles, which provided many of the old stories that the playwright used as raw material.

Jointly produced by the library and the University of Massachusetts at Boston, the exhibition includes holdings in the library's Barton Collection of Shakespeariana, the first major American collection and considered one of the greatest outside England.

The Rare Book Room is one of those places in this city where you can often be alone (apart from the staff member on duty) with priceless treasures. It's not hard to find: Take the elevator near the west door from the courtyard (the side away from Copley Square), get off on the third floor, and turn left. Free.

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