“It is my favourite book in the world,” Rylance added.
Rylance, currently mesmerising television audiences as Thomas Cromwell in the BBC adaptation of Wolf Hall, is a previous artistic director of the Globe. He said the importance of the first folio was immense.
“Without it, we would not have 17 of the greatest plays in the world, whose text does not survive anywhere else.”
He thought it was appropriate it should be returning from France to the theatre reconstructed on the South Bank, within sight, across the river, of St Paul’s churchyard where it was originally sold in 1623.