Monday. Wet. Lunchtime…
... so imagine my surprise then when Shakespeare groupie after Shakespeare groupie started wandering into the Weston Lecture Theatre, until quite frankly it was almost full.
Interestingly - and this is ONLY an observation - the audience was predominantly women; there were one or two men but they looked isolated and scared.
I know I was.
And if I’m honest, I wasn’t sure at first if I was going to like our speaker, Professor Sam Smith of home-grown Hertford College, but after one of the most glowing introductions I think I’ve ever heard at the festival, I began to I warm to her. Instantly.
Here was a scholar who wasn’t going to drone on and about the purity and brilliance of Shakespeare’s prose (been there, done that, bought the t-shirt…) but someone instead who wanted to take a good, long hard look at how Shakespeare’s First Folio came to be printed.
And by that I mean, the commercial impulses behind printing what has quickly became one of the most important books ever published.
Remember, Shakespeare had been dead for a few years before this collection of his plays was printed, and had it not been, we would incredibly have lost Macbeth, Twelfth Night and Antony and Cleopatra.
So thumbs up here for a talk that actually delivered far more than the Festival brochure promised.