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Birmingham’s First Folio heads to Aston Hall on Shakespeare’s birthday, 23 April, for its first outing of 2023 as part of the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project. To celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday and the First Folio’s visit, Aston Hall – which is part of Birmingham Museums Trust - is inviting people to join in with The Bard’s Big Birthday Bash and First Folio Frolics.

Expect heroes and villains bringing the Hall alive with Shakespearian-inspired comedy and drama. There will be frolics inspired by the works of the bard, including the rousing speech of Henry V in his armour as he prepares for battle; an opportunity to try out Shakespearian stage combat and rehearse the opening of Romeo and Juliet; a meet and greet with the Witches of Macbeth; and a chance to learn how the First Folio was printed with Isaac Jaggard, its printer, and then do some printing of your own!

The corner of Shakespeare's First Folio book, showing a page and the leaves of the book.
Birmingham's First Folio on tour as part of the Everything to Everybody Project

Sara Wajid from Birmingham Museums Trust, comments: “It is a real privilege for Aston Hall to be the first venue that the First Folio visits as part of its 2023 tour on Shakespeare’s birthday. To see this rare, valuable, internationally significant book in real life will connect our visitors to Shakespeare and bring him alive. I have no doubt that a child visiting us on 23 April to see the First Folio will go on to tell their children and grandchildren about it!”

As well as the Bard’s Birthday Bash and First Folio Frolics, visitors to Aston Hall can join in a workshop looking at how to read and understand Shakespeare. Second Reading will look at the words, the history around Shakespeare and his plays, and the way they reflect our world now.

Professor Ewan Fernie, Director of the ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project said: “Shakespeare continues to be relevant today and it’s fantastic that a visit from the First Folio can inspire so much fun and celebration. The team at Aston Hall have created a fitting birthday bash around the First Folio and we are thrilled to be celebrating our distinctly Birmingham Shakespeare heritage at one of Birmingham’s most historical locations.”

The First Folio on display. The book is open so that you can see two pages. Two young girls are looking at the book.
Birmingham's First Folio on display.

To date, the First Folio has been seen by almost 1500 people in community settings across Birmingham. The First Folio tour is aimed at raising awareness of Birmingham’s Shakespeare Memorial Library. Founded in 1864, the collection of more than 100,000 items is both the first major Shakespeare library in the world and also the only extensive Shakespeare collection which belongs to the people of a city. Each venue or partner will connect with the Shakespeare collection – and therefore the First Folio – in a way that is unique to them and their interests.

Viewing the First Folio is free in the Stable at Aston Hall, though booking is recommended. The usual admission charges apply to head indoors at Aston Hall. Book via:

Aston Hall has watched proudly over Birmingham for more than 400. Designed by John Thorpe and built by Sir Thomas Holte between 1618 to 1635, it is packed to the rafters with architectural gems and historical treasures, including the breath-taking Long Gallery and the great oak staircase, which still shows the battle scars of the English Civil War.

The ‘Everything to Everybody’ Project is a collaboration between the University of Birmingham and Birmingham City Council, with funding contributed by National Lottery Heritage Fund and History West Midlands ‘Everything to Everybody’ will give this uniquely democratic Shakespeare heritage back to people and communities across Birmingham.

To achieve this, ‘Everything to Everybody’ is working in conjunction with anchor institutions and arts organisations, including Birmingham Museums Trust, across the City.
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