This is a full-size, photographic facsimile of Shakespeare's First Folio. The First Folio was printed over a period of two years. Proofs were read and corrections were made as the printing proceeded. The uncorrected sheets were mixed in with the corrected ones, with the result that no extant Folio, of which there are approximately 230, shows the finally corrected state of every page, and no two Folios are identical. This edition shows pages from 29 of the most satisfactory copies of the 80 in the Folger Shakespeare Library. The introduction discusses the "authority" of the Folio version of each of the plays, explaining the principles and problems involved in the printing of the Folio, and the preparation of this facsimile edition. The appendix shows the "before and after" states of representative pages, and two original proof sheets. Peter Blayney, in his introduction, reconsiders Professor Hinman's findings in the light of new scholarship, as well as fresh discoveries about the First Folio in 1623. He concludes with a table identifying the order in which plays were set and the original compositors believed to have set each page. This facsimile edition also gives the Globe act-scene-line numbers for the first and last lines of the page. The book is slip-cased, with a ribbon marker.
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's preeminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". His surviving works, including some collaborations, consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.
Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire and was baptised on 26 April 1564. Thought to have been educated at the local grammar school, he married Anne Hathaway, with whom he went on to have three children, at the age of eighteen, before moving to London to work in the theatre. Two erotic poems, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece were published in 1593 and 1594 and records of his plays begin to appear in 1594 for Richard III and the three parts of Henry VI. Shakespeare's tragic period lasted from around 1600 to 1608, during which period he wrote plays including Hamlet and Othello. The first editions of the sonnets were published in 1609 but evidence suggests that Shakespeare had been writing them for years for a private readership.
Shakespeare spent the last five years of his life in Stratford, by now a wealthy man. He died on 23 April 1616 and was buried in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. The first collected edition of his works was published in 1623.
(The portrait details: The Chandos portrait, artist and authenticity unconfirmed. NPG1, © National Portrait Gallery, London)