Champions

We remain enormously grateful to all our campaign champions, whose support has encouraged our work and helped spread the word about our project.

❧ I am very happy to help the Bodleian Libraries raise funds so that the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays may be read and studied online; this will be a wonderful achievement.

Vanessa Redgrave
Actress

❧ “First Folio” as a phrase sounds so distant from our everyday lives, but this priceless and extraordinary collection of plays turned the world upside down (or should that be the right way up?) every bit as much as Newton was to do nearly 60 or so years later. The works of Shakespeare, now as much as ever, tell us what it is to be alive. The ambiguity, doubt, puzzlement, pain, madness and hilarity of existence had never been expressed so well and to this day never has. To bring the First Folio, the great authoritative publication, to everyone in the world via digitization is as noble and magnificent a project as can be imagined and I whole-heartedly support the Bodleian and all those endorsing this marvellous enterprise.

Stephen Fry
Actor, comedian, author, journalist, broadcaster and film director

❧ The digitization of the Bodleian copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio is a project of huge importance. It will provide an unrivalled opportunity for textual study not only for actors, directors and other theatre practitioners and their academic colleagues, but also for audiences whose love of the plays has remained undiminished over the centuries. It is an extremely exciting enterprise to which I am pleased to give my support.

Sir Peter Hall
Founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company, theatre and film director

❧ It is thrilling for all of us that modern technology is going to make the First Folio available to everyone all over the world. “I’ll be sworn upon all the books in England” that the Bodleian is the best ambassador for this priceless volume, and I am confident it is happy in this most comfortable home.

Thelma Holt
Theatre producer

❧ The Shakespeare First Folio is the most important secular book in the history of the western world. Every copy is a treasure of huge importance and, fascinatingly, because of the printing process in Shakespeare’s time, every copy has its own unique characteristics. There was a time when only advanced scholars, and people able to travel to the great libraries, had the opportunity to view the key copies of the Folio, but now the Internet has the capacity to make them available to everyone — the digitization of the Bodleian copy, with its strange and eventful history, is a great project.

Professor Jonathan Bate
Provost, Worcester College, University of Oxford, and co-curator of the British Museum’s exhibition Shakespeare: Staging the World

❧ The Shakespeare First Folio is one of the Bodleian’s great possessions. It is perhaps treasured so dearly because it was ripped from its chain and lost for nearly three hundred years. If the project to digitise it can be realised then everyone can have unfettered access to this marvellous book, and the wishes of Shakespeare’s friends and fellow actors, John Heminge and Henry Condell can be satisfied, when they wrote to the great variety of readers: “Read him, therefore; and again, and again.”

Greg Doran
Artistic Director Designate, Royal Shakespeare Society

❧ The idea that anyone, anywhere in the world, at any time, might be able to access the Bodleian copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio is absolutely thrilling. It is a document of unique and incalculable significance. It’s a piece of history; a cornerstone of our cultural identity and inheritance. No need to book a ticket to Oxford, by train, plane or automobile. No need for library subscriptions, exclusive appointments or white gloves. A copy of Shakespeare’s works – printed in 1623 – will be made available to everyone. It’s an extraordinary gift to lovers of his plays and poems; a legacy for us all.

Tom Hiddleston
Actor

❧ We have a £20,000 challenge from Oxford to Sprint for Shakespeare. We have Vanessa Redgrave as our champion. We can all do even more magic in this Olympic year. Let’s digitalize the Bodleian’s First Folio. As the athletes say to the aesthetes, Let’s Just Do It.

Sir Peter Stothard
Editor of the Times Literary Supplement

❧ Every time I’ll turn the pages of the digital copy and find myself in a forest, on a heath, in Venice or on the sea, I’ll have the pleasure of wondering whether it’s the very page my donation helped with.

Dr John McCafferty
Director of the Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute, University College Dublin

❧ The Bodleian copy of the First Folio has a special place in the Library’s history. Its pages are not only evidence of Shakespeare’s literary genius but are also a testimony of how the Bodleian built its collections over time, as the agreement with the Stationers’ Company enabled Oxford in 1623 to be the first university to ever hold Shakespeare’s First Folio, and the inspirational philanthropy showed by hundreds of people in 1906 helped save this precious volume for the nation. The current Sprint for Shakespeare campaign gives anyone the opportunity to become part of the Bodleian legacy for the future.

Dr Sarah Thomas
Bodley’s Librarian, University of Oxford

❧ For me this is a vital part of the Bodleian collection — not least because it has been marked by its stay in the library: the signs of wear on the pages of popular plays such as Romeo and Juliet give a real insight into the Oxford of the seventeenth century. I would like my students to be able to connect in this immediate way with the history of reading Shakespeare that is so fundamental to literary culture.

Dr Emma Smith
Lecturer and Fellow, Hertford College, University of Oxford

❧ When one thinks about the covetousness that has followed Shakespeare’s First Folio over the centuries, it is a particularly happy development to see the Bodleian now, through digitization, giving its copy away.

Stephen Enniss
Eric Weinmann Librarian, Folger Shakespeare Library

❧ The campaign to publish the Bodleian First Folio online will give students a chance to understand Shakespeare’s plays as the popular entertainment they were. The story of this particular copy of the book brings alive the love people have felt for Shakespeare for centuries. It makes his enduring appeal clear to the next generation.

Louisa MacKenzie
Head of English, The Henry Box School, Witney, Oxfordshire

❧ The First Folio represents a landmark in our cultural heritage. This represents an exciting opportunity for students to access a rare and fragile document which has hitherto been the preserve of scholars. The exciting combination of digital technologies and old books offers an innovative way for teachers to bring Shakespeare to life within the classroom, making our cultural heritage immediate and accessible to students rather than remote and hidden. Sprint for Shakespeare presents a unique opportunity for our secondary students to play an active role in helping to preserve this document, and to see our heritage as their heritage.

Dr Gavin Cole
Teacher of English, Beauchamp College, Leicester

❧ As Book Conservators at the Bodleian Libraries we get more than our fair share of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, and working on a First Folio is one of these. For us this project is a delicate balance between doing enough stabilisation work to keep the book safe during filming, and retaining the evidential damage that is such an important feature of this copy.

Nicole Gilroy
Book Conservation Supervisor, Bodleian Libraries