Published seven years after William Shakespeare’s death in 1616, the first folio is credited with sustaining the legacy of the playwright and ensuring that generations could enjoy the bard’s plays.

What is a folio?

A folio is a large book made by folding sheets of paper in half, with each sheet forming four pages. This format was usually reserved for weighty historic or religious subjects. Shakespeare’s first folio was the first of its kind published in England devoted exclusively to plays.

Shakespeare’s first folio Published in 1623, the full title of Shakespeare’s first folio is Mr William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies.

The word folio refers to its considerable size. Plays prior to this were considered too trivial to be printed in such a large format. Assembled and edited by the playwright’s friends and fellow actors John Heminge and Henry Condell, the first folio contains 36 Shakespearean plays, 18 of which had never been printed before. Were it not for their appearance in the folio, they would most probably have been lost forever – they include As You Like It. The Tempest, Julius Caesar, and Macbeth.

It is believed that 800 copies of the first folio were produced, out of which 233 still exist. Each copy is said to be unique because the manuscripts were proofread and corrected while the printing was in progress.

Sold for a pound

The original selling price for a copy of Shakespeare’s first folio was one pound and like most books of that era, it was sold unbound so the buyers needed to have it bound in leather. Today, an original copy of this book can fetch more than two million pounds. It is easily the most important collection of plays ever published and valued throughout the world.

Picture Credit : Google 

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