<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

Stonyhurst College’s Shakespeare First Folio

PUBLISHED: 00:00 23 May 2016

There are only 233 Shakespeare first folios known to have survived

There are only 233 Shakespeare first folios known to have survived

Stonyhurst

It was big news when a Shakespeare First Folio was found on a Scottish island, but we have our very own here in the Ribble Valley. Julie Frankland went to see it

Jan discussing the First Folio with students Jan discussing the First Folio with students

It’s said that the best place to hide a book is in a library and Jan Graffius, Stonyhurst College’s archivist of 15 years, isn’t going to disagree.

Unless you have been living in a cultural fog, you will no doubt be aware that this year is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, and nationwide there are all sorts of events organised to celebrate the great bard’s literary legacy. In the Ribble Valley, Stonyhurst College, the country’s leading independent Jesuit boarding and day school, is doing its bit by loaning out what is arguably the most precious of the 55,000 books in its library – a Shakespeare First Folio – to Blackburn Museum, where it is on public display.

Yet, by rights, the college should also have a ‘spare’ First Folio - a second copy, which was lost only to miraculously re-surface in September 2014 in a small library near Calais, where it had been hidden for more than two centuries.

With Stonyhurst College’s own libraries currently under renovation and Jan in the throes of cataloguing not only the school’s vast collection of books and manuscripts but also its remarkable museum of artefacts, gifted mainly by its alumni, she is philosophical about the lost tome. ‘It is estimated that around 750 First Folios were printed and of these, 233 are currently known to survive,’ she said. ‘The copy we have loaned to Blackburn Museum was a bequest by a former pupil, Everard, 10th Baron Arundell of Wardour, in 1837. The copy that has come to light in the public library in Saint-Omer is believed to have belonged to another former pupil, Edward Scarisbrick.

The magificient college at Hurst Green The magificient college at Hurst Green

Stonyhurst was founded in Saint-Omer by a Jesuit Father called Father Robert Persons in the late 16th century when Catholicism was outlawed in this country. Edward, who was from a prominent Roman Catholic family, studied at Saint-Omer in the 1630s and the first page of the First Folio found in the town’s library is inscribed with the word Nevill, a name Scarisbrick is known to have used.

So how did a book, today worth millions of pounds, become lost? Jan explained: ‘The Saint-Omer college was expelled from France in 1762 because of political differences between the Jesuits and the French Government. Its collection of books was handed to the town’s public library. A couple of years ago, a librarian there was selecting books for an upcoming exhibition on historic links between the local region and England when he found it, sitting on a shelf alongside other books by English authors.

‘It was missing the frontispiece and the Martin Droeshout portrait of Shakespeare that are the hallmarks of the other known copies, which is probably why its significance had previously gone unrecognised. So Dr Cordonnier had the book immediately authenticated by an internationally known Shakespeare scholar who happened to be in London at the time and jumped on Eurostar to view the find. When we learned of it, we were just as excited and thrilled.’

Viewing Stonyhurst’s collections

It is possible to view Stonyhurst’s libraries and its collections of treasured artefacts. These include the skull of Cardinal John Morton, a former Archbishop of Canterbury who engineered Henry VII’s ascension to the throne, and a thorn said to be from the crown of thorns Jesus wore on the cross. Contact Jan on 01254 826345 or emailj.graffius@stonyhurst.ac.uk

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Lancashire Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Lancashire Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Lancashire Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Monday, February 12, 2018

How many of these local landmarks can you recognise?

Read more
Quiz Spring
Monday, February 12, 2018

Rebekka O’Grady and photographer John Cocks meet some of the new independent businesses calling Southport home

Read more
Southport
Friday, February 9, 2018

Plans for around 600 new houses to be built in pretty Wyre village

Read more
Wednesday, February 7, 2018

John Lenehan toasts the re-opening of a Lancashire engineering landmark and notes an invention to revive any walker.

Read more
Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Kirkby Lonsdale sits on the spot where Lancashire, Yorkshire and Westmorland meet, making it a great base to explore the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. All these walks start of within a ten mile radius of Kirkby Lonsdale, making them a perfect day trip for anyone staying close to the historic market town.

Read more
Kirkby Lonsdale
Monday, February 5, 2018

From businesses selling banjoes to bridalwear from a former New York costume designer, Colne is a town for all seasons. Mairead Mahon reports.

Read more
Colne
Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Lake District walks dominate the top ten of Britain’s 100 list.

Read more
Lake District Lake District Walks
Friday, January 26, 2018

Barrow was built on hard graft but there’s plenty of beauty to be found as well, as Mike Glover reports

PHOTOGRAPHY BY SANDY KITCHING

Read more
Thursday, January 25, 2018

Despite its bad reputation, the cuckoo has been a great and clever survivor in the wild. However, numbers have dipped since the 1970s. The Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Alan Wright investigates this iconic spring bird.

Read more
Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Many of us are frustrated by our inability to swim well. Sarah Hill did something about it and now helps others. She spoke to Roger Borrell.

Read more
Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Celebrate the historic waterways of Lancashire with one of these canalside walks that allow you to enjoy the countryside and witness echoes the the county’s industrial past.

Read more
Canals
Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Their football clubs both wear navy blue and white strips, but how well can you identify landmarks in Bolton and Preston?

Read more
Preston Bolton Quiz
Friday, January 12, 2018

Spring is not too far off and that’s the time when the birds start getting noisier in our woodlands. The Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Alan Wright investigates a couple of the stars of the Dawn Chorus.

Read more
Spring
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

John Lenehan selects a relatively gentle walk to blow away the post-Christmas cobwebs

Read more
Ribble Valley Walks
 
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter


Subscribe or buy a mag today

Local Business Directory

Lancashire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Property Search