The Making of Shakespeare's First Folio

Emma Smith


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Bodleian Library
18 April 2023
ISBN: 9781851245987
277 pages

From the publisher

In late November 1623, Edward Blount finally took delivery to his bookshop at the sign of the Black Bear near St Paul's a book that had been long in the making. Master William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies was the first collected edition of Shakespeare's plays, appearing some seven years after their author's death in 1616. There was no fanfare at the book's arrival. There was nothing of the marketing that marks an important new publication in our own period: no advertising campaign, no reviews, interviews, endorsements or literary prizes. Nevertheless, it is hard to overstate the importance of this literary, cultural and commercial moment. Generously illustrated in colour with key pages from the publication and comparative works, this new edition combines the recent discovery of a hitherto unknown edition of the First Folio at Mount Stuart House on the Isle of Bute with the human, artistic, economic and technical stories of the birth of this landmark publication - and the birth of Shakespeare's towering reputation.