In 2014, Rémy Cordonnier, head of heritage collections at BAPSO (Bibliothèque d’Agglomération du Pays de Saint-Omer), was going through volumes in preparation for an exhibition on English literature when he stopped on a Shakespeare manuscript listed as dating from the 18th century. Quickly, the layout, the language used, the patina of the leather gives him the feeling of an older edition.
He even thinks the manuscript might be a First Folio, a first edition. Here, the first compilation of Shakespeare’s dramatic works, dating from 1623, seven years after his death. There must have been about 800 volumes of this edition, of which only 232 are still preserved in the world. By happy coincidence, Eric Rasmussen, a leading Shakespeare scholar at the University of Reno in Nevada, was visiting London to prepare for the five hundredth anniversary of the author’s death. Delighted with the discovery, he flew back and forth almost immediately after being contacted. A few minutes of analysis of the work were enough to convince him: it is indeed a first folio. This is the 233rd copy in the world and the 2nd in France (the other is in the Bibliothèque nationale de France).