It’d be wrong to let the birthday of our nation’s greatest playwright pass by without comment, so here’s my little nod to the great man. My edition of Shakespeare’s complete works is the oldest book I own, and by far the most precious, and I wanted to share it with you today.
It looks, feels and smells exactly how you’d wish an old book to look, feel and smell; every physical book evokes some kind of emotional response but to hold this is to feel as if you’re in contact with another era. I’ve scoured the pages and can find no publication date printed anywhere, which is a bit of a shame as I’d love to know, but it goes back without a doubt to at least the first half of last century as it was given to my maternal grandmother by my great-grandmother on her 21st birthday. It’s that family connection that gives it a value unlike any other book I own. The idea of a precious book being passed down through generations of women in my family makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside – I hope one day I’ll be able to pass it on again in turn.
And if you were to envisage the quintessential complete Shakespeare in your head, I’m pretty sure it would look something like this. From the leather cover to the gilt-edged pages, to the wonderful, magical photographs of bygone actors and actresses in their Shakespearean garb, it’s absolute book-perfection.
Happy birthday Mr. Shakespeare!