Get to know the writer like never before.

By Talia Avakian
Updated October 20, 2016
Boston Public Library Inside
Credit: Shobeir Ansari/Getty Images

This article originally appeared on

A new free exhibit opening this Friday at the Boston Public Library will showcase first and early editions of some of William Shakespeare’s most popular works.

Boston Public Library aims to cut through 400 years of literary analysis and explore the pages of Shakespeare’s original writings, including some of his most famous works: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Hamlet,” and “The Merchant of Venice.”

Beyond the plays themselves, “Shakespeare Unauthorized” showcases centuries of literary theory and academic writings about the Bard, all within a theatrical setting, with stage flaps made out of translucent scrim giving you the illusion that you’re backstage.

Visitors can check out four Shakespearean folios (including the library’s copy of the famed First Folio), and artifacts like John Adams' copy of Shakespeare’s works with his notes on it, famous works by Shakespearean forgery artists, and diagrams discussing conspiracies and secret codes.

While there, you can also check out the Shakespeare’s Here and Everywhere exhibition at the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center, which displays 40 maps and objects celebrating the locations that inspired Shakespeare and the role geography played on his works.

Tours are available from volunteer guides Wednesday and Saturdays. Jay Moschella, the curator of rare books, will lead tours on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month.

Shakespeare fans can also check out some of the many Shakespearean programs around the city, from book readings to discussions.