Paul Kelly to help NSW State Library celebrate Shakespeare 400

April 23rd marks the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. To commemorate the occasion the State Library of NSW is staging a major Shakespeare celebration; headlined by acclaimed Australian singer-songwriter Paul Kelly.

The celebration will see Kelly launch his new Shakespeare inspired album, Seven Sonnets & A Song, in the atmospheric Mitchell Reading Room on the evening of the 23rd.

“As the home of Shakespeare in Australia, the State Library is thrilled to be joining the international celebrations to recognise the life and work of the renowned poet and playwright,” says NSW State Librarian & Chief Executive Alex Byrne.

“The anniversary offers a unique opportunity for us to highlight the Bard’s ongoing literary and cultural significance, and how his work continues to influence us today,” says Dr Byrne. “We’re delighted Paul Kelly will be sharing his contemporary response to Shakespeare’s genius for the first time at the Library on 23 April.”

Complementing this landmark launch, the Library will present a dynamic series of events for all ages, including: a silent film festival, Shakespeare trivia night (21 April), a sonnet slam and a free Shakespeare 400 Fan Day (23 April) featuring roving performers from Bell Shakespeare, a fairy grotto and drawing workshops with award-winning children’s author Leigh Hobbs.

In addition to this, Australia’s only copy of the First Folio will go on display in the State Library’s Amaze Gallery from 1 April, along with other extraordinary Shakespeariana from the Library’s rich collections.

“There are no manuscripts of these plays available in the Bard’s own hand so the First Folio is the closest a reader can get to the original source,” says Maggie Patton, the State Library’s rare books expert.

“It’s hard to imagine that 16 of Shakespeare’s early plays – published in the First Folio thanks to the Bard’s fellow actors – may have never been published and that works like Anthony & Cleopatra, The Tempest or Twelfth Night might have been lost to generations of audiences.”

To celebrate Shakespeare 400, the State Library’s stunning Shakespeare Room – one of the most unusual public places in Sydney – will be open every day from 18 to 23 April, from 10am to 4pm.

The Tudor-style memorial library, with its spectacular plaster ceiling modelled on Cardinal Wolsey’s closet at Hampton Court Palace, was constructed in 1943 in the State Library’s historic Mitchell wing.

For more information visit HERE or follow #shakespeare400

Tickets for Paul Kelly will go on sale in April.


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Simon Clark

Books Editor. An admirer of songs and reader of books. Simon has a PhD in English and Comparative Literature. All errant apostrophes are his own.

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