Loues Labour's Loft
Shakespeare’s First Folio is a modern term applied by scholars to one of the world’s most famous books, Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies, the collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays—and one of the highlights of the British Library. Published in folio form seven years after the playwright’s death by Isaac Iaggard and Edward Blount, and overseen by Shakespeare’s fellow actors John Heminge and Henry Condell, the First Folio contains the text of thirty-six plays, half of which had not been previously published during the Bard’s lifetime. At last, readers had the plays as they were actually performed, “where before,” the editors wrote, “you were abused with diverse, stolen and surreptitious copies, maimed and deformed by the frauds and stealths of injurious imposters. . . .” Sold for one pound each at the time, this remarkable collection is invaluable to our understanding of the playwright and our conception of his canon.
The British Library and the Globe Theatre in London have worked together to produce a series of affordable and beautifully reproduced facsimile editions of individual plays from the book, beginning with Othello, The Merchant of Venice, and Love’s Labour’s Lost. In addition to the text for each play, each title will include copies of the preliminary pages from the Folio—including the famous engraved portrait of Shakespeare by Martin Droeshout and an introduction to each individual work by Anthony James West. This exciting new series presents the authentic First Folio manuscripts in a collectible format, an eventful publication for the general reader and Shakespearean scholar alike.
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