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Early editions of Shakespeare's plays get rare public view at the Boston Public Library

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The public is getting a rare peek at first and early editions of some of William Shakespeare's most beloved plays.

The Boston Public Library is commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death with "Shakespeare Unauthorized," a free exhibition that opened Friday.

The library holds a copy of the "First Folio," Shakespeare's earliest published collection.

What else will you find in the exhibit?

Early "quartos," or booklets for individual works like "A Midsummer Night's Dream," ''Hamlet" and "The Merchant of Venice," are also among the highlights of the exhibition.

"These are the books that all modern Shakespeare texts are based on," says Jay Moschella, the library's curator for rare books. "They're extremely valuable and we're one of the few places that has them. They're one of the great cultural treasures of Boston."

"Shakespeare Unauthorized" features roughly 60 items

The "First Folio" contains 36 of his works, 18 of which had never been printed before.

The library purchased much of its collection of Shakespeare materials along with thousands of other early works of English literature for $34,000 from the family of a prominent collector in 1873.

"Shakespeare Unauthorized" runs through March 31, 2017 and is a highlight of the library's celebration of Shakespeare.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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