To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the release of Shakespeare’s First Folio, Trinity alumnus Blair Southerden (Class of 1966) presented us with a limited edition copy of The Complete Plays of William Shakespeare. 

Shakespeare’s First Folio is the inaugural printed compilation of William Shakespeare’s dramatic works and was originally published in 1623, seven years after his death. The monumental volume encompasses 36 of Shakespeare’s literary masterpieces, categorised into tragedies, histories and comedies – classifications which are generally still used today. 

Without this remarkable book, we might have been deprived of the scripts for 18 of Shakespeare’s plays, including Macbeth, Twelfth Night, and The Tempest. The First Folio is regarded by scholars as the only reliable source for twenty of the plays and is therefore generally regarded as one of the most significant texts ever published. Of the original copies, 235 are known to survive, with 50 remaining in the UK.  

The copy of The Complete Plays by William Shakespeare presented to us by Blair is one of 1,000 hand-numbered sets produced to celebrate the 400th anniversary and includes a foreword by Dame Judi Dench.  

Blair’s aspiration is for this copy to captivate the attention of Trinity English students and artists who will undoubtedly appreciate the splendid bindings and the exquisite illustrations crafted by the talented artist Neil Packer, who has also signed the copy.  

Alasdair Doyle, Head of English says: “We’re delighted to have this presentation edition in the school where it will be on display.” 

We are very grateful for this magnanimous, considerate, and inspiring gift – thank you Blair. 


For anyone interested, there is a website dedicated to the 400th anniversary and provides lots of information about how the First Folio came about. The printing of the collection of plays was a hugely ambitious project at the time and came down to a small group of Shakespeare’s acting colleagues, financial investors, and the marshalling of suitable skills and materials. Find out more by visiting Folio 400. 

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