'Priceless' Shakespeare gift boosts Globe

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The Independent Culture

A US collector and playwright has pledged his "priceless collection" of texts by the Bard and other writers to Shakespeare's Globe.

The collection of more than 450 works includes a first folio of 18 Shakespeare plays, bound together in the early 17th century shortly after he died.

The collection itself has never been valued but it is thought that some of the texts alone could be worth £1 million.

wolfThe collection, which features 16th, 17th and 18th century plays as well as texts by the writers who are thought to have influenced Shakespeare, will be housed in a new research centre at the Globe.

The Globe, in London, was built in 1997 to recreate the original theatre in which Shakespeare put on many of his plays.

The first Shakespeare folio took nearly two years to print at a shop near the Barbican in the City of London.

It is thought that around 750 copies were printed in 1623 and around 228 were recorded in existence in the 1990s.

None of the 18 plays featured in the first edition, including The Tempest, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, Macbeth and Antony And Cleopatra, had been published before.

Wolfson said: "What happens to most collections, unfortunately, is that they get broken up.

"Having witnessed the break up of many collections, I consider myself fortunate to have found a place as appropriate for my books as Shakespeare's Globe.

"Here it will be possible for the collection which I have put together, to remain together, and to be used to great advantage by students, scholars and educators for generations to come."

Shakespeare's Globe chief executive Peter Kyle said: "We are delighted and privileged that John Wolfson has bequeathed his wonderful collection to us.

"We are running a fundraising campaign for a new library to appropriately store and give access to these rare books to the wider world."