Exeter Cathedral Library and Shakespeare’s Second Folio, 1632

I had the great pleasure yesterday of having a private visit to the Exeter Cathedral Library. I was in a small party of six – four from The Friends of Coleridge, with myself and another from the Coleridge Memorial Trust – there to present JCC Mays’ scholarly book Coleridge’s Father to the Library.

We were welcomed by Canon Librarian Ann Barwood who gave an informative and detailed introduction to the work and collection of the Library before we moved to a side room for the presentation of Mays’ book. It was fascinating to hear of the library’s copy of The Exeter Book, the Codex Exoniensis, a tenth century anthology of Anglo-Saxon poetry,

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as well as the Exon Domesday, Liber Exoniensis, from 1086,

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Ann Barwood had laid out books/manuscripts for us to see, and we were able to view The Exeter Book, inside its glass frame, and to marvel at the precise handwritten script as well as quality of this ancient text,

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What I hadn’t expected was there would also be the library’s copy of Shakespeare’s second folio to view, and indeed to look through some of its pages, very carefully,

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This may sound overly precious, but being able to see this 1632 text up close and  physically turn and read a few pages as well as take photos, including Ben Johnson’s commendatory verse, was a genuine treat. An immediate surprise is that the edition begins with Shakespeare’s final play The Tempest,

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