The UK has placed a temporary ban on a rare annotated copy of a book by William Shakespeare’s venerable rival Ben Jonson in an aim to keep it in the country.
The rare copy of “The Silent Woman”, a comedy first performed in 1609, faces the risk of going overseas unless a buyer can be found in the next few months to match the recommended price of $63,000, reports Xinhua news agency.
Jonson (1572-1637) is hailed as the most important writer of the English Renaissance after Shakespeare, having lived and worked in an age of great social change that produced some of the finest works of English literature.
A spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said the extraordinarily rare volume is the only known example of a document showing how a play by Jonson was prepared for performance.
“This volume occupies a unique place among surviving materials because of the nature and range of its annotations, including stage directions, details of props, and textual corrections, which collectively do not fall into any category previously known to scholars of seventeenth-century theatre,” she said on Monday.
“The volume is of outstanding interest to the study of English theatrical history.”
British Arts Minister John Glen hopes that the book could be kept in Britain to enrich the study of English theatrical history and learn more about the performances of Jonson’s work.