• -Commentary by Arthur Freeman, with introductory material by Stephen Orgel and A.R. Braunmuller
      Monograph on the printing of the First Folio by Peter W.M. Blayney
      -Norton "Through Line Numbers"
      -Searchable live text
      -Magnify up to 200%
    • -Digital images of every page of this rare book, cover to cover, in full color, presented as uncropped spreads
      -Print and Thumbnails files for creating printed references
      -Adobe Reader 4.0 with Search software
      -Autostart PDF file on CD-ROM with all of Adobe Reader’s viewing, navigation, and search features
      -Octavo Digital Guide and Help files
    • - Adobe Reader 5.0 or later (available free from Adobe)
      - Windows PC with Pentium processor running Windows 95 or later
      - Macintosh Power Mac running OS 9.2, or OS X 10.1 or later. Linux 2.2 kernel on X86 computer
      - Color Monitor (15" or larger, capable of displaying millions of colors recommended)
      - CD-ROM drive
  • In the career of a playwright marked by mystery and conjecture, as evanescent as a theatrical performance, the large memorial volume of plays, known from its size as the “First Folio,” stands as the one sure thing. Shakespeare’s plays were written for performance; printing was a secondary matter. The texts of eighteen plays were published individually during his lifetime in small quarto pamphlets of varying textual reliability. It was not until seven years after Shakespeare’s death that two of his actor friends stepped in to assemble from scattered documents a worthy memorial. Their “First Folio” edition (there were eventually four) determined the canon of Shakespeare’s works, establishing the unassailable core of his productions – thirty-six plays in all, half of which had never before been published and are known in no other authoritative text. This Octavo Edition is reproduced from the finest of the many dozens of copies in the unrivaled collection of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. Here is Shakespeare’s work as it was preserved by his contemporaries, full of vitality, wit, and melancholy – the timeless reflection of its author’s time, and all times.

    The original book imaged for this digital edition:
    13 3/4 x 8 3/4 inches (350 x 222 mm)
    Rescued Repertory
    The first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays, published in 1623, seven years after his death, is probably the most famous “literary” printed book in the world. Not undeservedly: the massive single-volume, double-column edition of thirty-six “Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies” prints eighteen plays for the first time, and provides superior texts of four of the others, which had earlier appeared in separate smaller-format versions. Had the 1623 collection never been issued, we would now possess no trace of The Tempest, Macbeth, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, Measure for Measure, or The Winter's Tale, nor a complete Richard III, nor anything but a mangled version of Henry V and a clumsy approximation of The Taming of the Shrew.
    Troublesome Troilus
    The Catalogue, or table of contents, for the Shakespeare First Folio does not list the play Troilus and Cressida, because the publishers did not think they would get permission to include it. In fact, the earliest printed copies of the Folio do not include it at all, and several others include it without the prologue. But the dispute over Troilus was good news for Timon of Athens, inserted to fill the space left when Troilus was pulled, which might otherwise not have been included. Eventually, the rights issue was settled and both plays were ultimately included.
    Resplendent Repository
    The Burdett-Coutts copy of the First Folio, reproduced here, is perhaps the finest in existence. Appropriately enough, it is housed in a reliquary with a history of its own. Herne’s Oak, celebrated in The Merry Wives of Windsor, fell down in August 1863, and a piece of the tree was presented to Miss Burdett-Coutts soon after she purchased this copy by Queen Victoria. This was used to fashion an ornamental casket (pictured in the Edition) that is a superb specimen of High Victorian artistry.


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