Provo celebrates 400 years of Shakespeare

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2023 comes with a unique anniversary for Shakespeare and his legacy.

This past weekend a local bookstore celebrated the 400 year anniversary of the first group of Shakespeare’s plays being published. Visitors were able to flip through a 400-year-old copy of one of Shakespeare’s first folio. 

Artifacts of History bookstore is tucked inside the Provo Towne Center Mall, where BYU English major Charity Ford found the college job of her dreams. With her knowledge of history and literature, Ford helped the store come to life at the free community event. 

Ford explained to the audience that the first folio was published in 1623 as well as his first collection of plays.

“I love how fundamentally human (literature) is. We’re using this human invention of language to try to capture what it is to feel and to think and to be. To be or not to be as he says,” Ford said.

The store gathered all kinds of old Shakespeare editions for audience members to hold and flip through. Ford said books and stories connect people. 

“My favorite literature is literature that I feel validates my existence, like ‘Oh yes, this is what it feels like to be me, to feel understood,'” Ford said.

The owner of the bookstore, CJ Peterson, is an avid collector. Peterson’s favorite items in his collection are religious artifacts from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including a first-edition book of songs and poetry collected by Emma Smith and a first-edition Book of Mormon. 

“I’ve always loved books. I’ve been collecting books since I was a kid. My mom always thought it was funny I’d go to garage sales,” Peterson said.

Peterson has two home libraries and a store, all to share his passion with people coming together to connect and to learn.

“I want someone of all ages, education levels wealth levels. I want everyone across the spectrum to enjoy my store,” Peterson said.

The store will be holding another free event discussing Charles Dickens’ Christmas stories. The store acquired old editions of Dickens in preparation for the event.

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