Shakespeare's First Folio


Shakespeare's First Folio


  • Intro

    This is the first collected edition of the Shakespeare's plays, published in 1623, only 7 years after the playwright’s death. It is known as the 'First Folio'. The word ‘folio’ comes from the Latin for a leaf, and usually means a leaf in a manuscript. But in printers’ jargon it had another sense: it referred to page size. It was two of Shakespeare's fellow actors and closest friends, John Heminge and Henry Condell, who undertook the work of editing the text and supervising the printing.


    None of Shakespeare's manuscripts survive, so the printed texts of his plays are our only source for what he originally wrote. The quarto editions are the texts closest to Shakespeare's time. Some are thought to preserve either his working drafts or his finished 'fair copies'. Others are thought to record versions remembered by actors who performed the plays in Shakespeare's day. 


    William Shakespeare began his career as an actor and playwright around 1592, not long after the first public playhouses were opened in London. He belonged to The Chamberlain's Men, a company of actors who performed in the Globe, an open-air playhouse built on the south bank of the Thames in 1599. Shakespeare wrote at least 37 plays, many of which were very successful both at court and in the public playhouses.


    Shelfmark: G.11631.

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