From pen to print: Shakespeare’s original collected works comes to OU

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NORMAN, OKLAHOMA - They didn't hurry into the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History to see dinosaur bones, not today.

University of Oklahoma Drama professor Alissa Mortimer and Publications Specialist Elyssa Mann hurried past the huge bronze mastodon, turned on a shady corner, and found what they sought, a rare book.

The first efforts at compiling the work of William Shakespeare.

He was a prolific playwright and author.

But when Shakespeare died in 1616 his plays consisted of scripts called quartos.

Some were scribbled over or in loose sheets.

A few years after his death some of his friends thought his work was important enough to copy down.

The First Folio is the result.

They printed around 750 copies.

Fewer than 250 survive, and this is one.

This particular copy is well-worn, used by generations of actors and scholars seeking Shakespeare's original words.

The page is turned to Hamlet, a play that might not have survived if this folio hadn't been made.

It is a small show.

The story of the book is told on poster board, and then the book itself behind a plexiglass case.

36 plays, as near as you can get to the original writings, his words, his original inspiration, no bones about it.

For more information about the First Folio and its tour around the United States go to http://www.folger.edu/first-folio-tour

The Bizell Library at OU also has Shakespeare's Second Folio on display.

For more information about that display, go to http://www.galileo.ou.edu.