The oldest copy of one of Shakespeare’s plays in Spain is found in Andalusia

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The works of Shakespeare. / on

The search for the oldest examples of Shakespeare’s work in Spain ended in Andalusia. The famous story of the life of King Henry VIII, dating from 1632, has been found in Seville

Just a few years ago, a volume of the First Folio (a collection of 36 comedies, stories and tragedies by Shakespeare) from the Royal English College of St Alban (Real Colegio de San Albano) in Valladolid, was considered the first work of Shakespeare. to arrive in Spain. This center was founded in Valladolid in 1590 by Robert Persons, an English Jesuit, to train English priests in Catholic theology in order to combat Anglicanism and Protestantism in the United Kingdom. The College Library housed the First Folio until the early 20th century. Today it is kept at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington.

Perhaps it was Shakespeare himself who brought his work to Valladolid. This visit has been the subject of speculation for centuries

Incidentally, it may have been Shakespeare himself who brought his work to Valladolid. The idea that the English playwright may have visited this Spanish city in 1605 has been the subject of speculation for centuries. William Shakespeare was able to travel to Valladolid in the spring of 1605 on a peace mission as part of a royal delegation. There is even a story that the English playwright met Miguel Cervantes, who lived in Valladolid between 1603 and 1606 and where he was finishing his novel, Don Quixote.

The two noble parents of Salamanca

In September 2020, Professor John Stone from the University of Barcelona was working on a research project in the 18th century philosophy and economics collection of the Royal Scots College (Real Colegio de Escoses) in Salamanca. There he unearthed a 1634 copy of Shakespeare’s tragicomedy The Two Noble Parents. It was written with John Fletcher and considered Shakespeare’s last play. This discovery was immediately considered the first of Shakespeare’s printed works to have circulated in Spain.

Its arrival dates back to between 1641 and 1651, most likely as part of a student’s personal library or at the request of the College’s first rector, Hugh Semple. He was a friend of Lope de Vega and kept plays in his private library. There is another, more plausible hypothesis. It is thought that his plays were acquired around 1635 by a Scottish or English traveler who took with him theatrical texts published at that time in Great Britain.

Henry VIII of Seville

But now it is claimed that the oldest preserved edition of Shakespeare’s works in Spain is in Seville. His play The Famous Story of the Life of King Henry VIII was found in the library of the San Francisco de Paula International School in Seville (Colegio Internacional de Sevilla San Francisco de Paula) in November 2020. The library is owned by a private school which was founded in Seville in 1886 and together with its archives, has about 60,000 volumes and documents from the 13th to the 18th century.

The Bard’s Play in Seville is the second edition of The Famous Story of the Life of King Henry VIII and has been hidden from the public for centuries. It seems that after John Stone discovered a copy of the play in Salamanca, the principal of the San Francisco de Paula school, Luis Rey Goñi, decided to check the date of the edition they had. The principle was pleasantly surprised to realize that it dated back to 1632, two years earlier than The Two Noble Parents at Salamanca. It is believed that the Seville copy was part of Valladolid’s first folio and was separated from the rest and taken to the Andalusian capital.

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