25/11/2014 17:23 GMT | Updated 25/11/2014 18:59 GMT

Shakespeare First Folio Found In French Library After Being Overlooked For 400 Years

DENIS CHARLET via Getty Images
Remy Cordonnier, librarian in the northern town of Saint-Omer, near Calais carefully shows an example of a valuable Shakespeare 'First Folio', a collection of some of his plays, dating from 1623. Around 230 copies of the First Folio are known to exist in collections or in private hands around the world. The young librarian said he came across the book in September when he was selecting books for an forthcoming exhibition on historic links between the local region and England. AFP PHOTO/DENIS CHA

An extremely rare First Folio of the plays of Williams Shakespeare has been uncovered in France, having sat undisturbed for more than 400 years in the library of St-Omer near Calais.

The book, which was discovered by librarian Remy Cordonnier and was chanced upon while he was looking for works for a Shakespeare exhibition, is one of the most coveted in the world, and is thought to be worth around £3.5million ($5.5million).

The First Folios were prepared by Shakespeare's colleagues John Heminges and Henry Condell after the playwright's death in 1616

The book was published in 1623 shortly after the Bard’s death, and has been authenticated by a First Folio expert from the University of Nevada. Within the tome are 36 plays by the English playwright, however around 30 pages are missing, despite the book's overall good condition.

“It occurred to me that it could be an unidentified First Folio, with historic importance and great intellectual value,” said Cordonnier, adding: “It is the 231st copy found in the world and the second in France.”

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