ONE of the most important books in English literature has arrived in the region and will go on public show from tomorrow, Thursday.

Shakespeare’s First Folio will be on display in the Yorkshire Museum in York to coincide with the city’s Literature Festival.

The book’s importance stems from the fact that in 1616, the year of the Bard’s death, 18 of his plays had not reached print, including Macbeth, Twelfth Night and The Tempest.

They merely existed as handwritten actors’ notes and Shakespeare’s own drafts - but in 1623 they were published as a compilation of 36 of his plays in one volume, the First Folio.

It is unlikely that any of the plays would have survived without the Folio and of the 750 copies originally printed, around 230 survive with fewer than 50 remaining in the British Isles.

The copy now going on show in York is on loan from the Craven Museum in Skipton on a temporary loan in exchange for the Yorkshire Museum’s recently-acquired Iron Age gold torcs.

Curator of archaeology Natalie McCaul said: “The Skipton First Folio is one of only four copies worldwide that is on permanent display to the public and, taking over two years to print, it is believed that no two copies of the book are the same, which makes it even more special.”

The three remaining Folios are on display at Shakespeare's Birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon, the British Library in London and the Folger Library in Washington D.C.