Evolving Engagement

Colleagues in the Bodleian have worked with IT Services to produce a term-long series of talks, classes and workshops, Engage: Social Media Michaelmas, run by Kate Lindsay with help from Stephen Eyre.

I was delighted to be invited to talk today to a lively audience about the Bodleian First Folio and its two public funding campaigns, 1905/6 and 2012.

Talk description

Evolving Engagement: the many lives of the Bodleian First Folio

In the winter of 1623, a copy of Shakespeare’s newly printed First Folio arrived at the Bodleian Library from London. In the 1660s it left the Library and was lost from view until 1905, when an undergraduate from Magdalen College brought a tattered copy of an early Shakespeare Folio into the Library for advice on its binding.

Inspired by the research of Emma Smith (Hertford College) into the book’s history, Sprint for Shakespeare was a public engagement and funding campaign. Through print, broadcast, and social media, it promoted engagement with Shakespeare, the First Folio, and current research. It raised £20,000 to conserve, photograph, and publish a high quality digital facsimile online, freely available to anyone with internet access. It continues to promote use and understanding of the First Folio and its place in Shakespeare studies, amongst other activities running workshops for teachers and actors.

Pip Willcox (a digital editor at BDLSS, Bodleian Libraries) conceived and managed the project, working closely with Emma Smith, and with colleagues across the Library and the University. In this talk Pip outlines the cultural significance of this first edition of Shakespeare’s plays, relating the winding history of the Bodleian’s copy, and focusing on the two public campaigns the book sparked, in 1905 and 2012.


This is a reduced size version of the slides from my talk, with images removed where we don’t have permissions to reproduce them.