Re-discovery of Shakespeare First Folio

Monday, April 11, 2016
Re-discovery of Shakespeare First Folio

An original copy of William Shakespeare’s First Folio has been discovered in a Scottish island. Published in 1623, seven years after the playwright’s death, this was the first attempt to compile Shakespeare’s works into one publication.

Re-discovery of Shakespeare First Folio

An original copy of William Shakespeare’s First Folio has been discovered in a Scottish island. Published in 1623, seven years after the playwright’s death, this was the first attempt to compile Shakespeare’s works into one publication.

During his own lifetime, few of Shakespeare’s works made their way to print. It was not considered necessary, during Elizabethan times, to provide the public with a play on paper: plays were performed on stage, and often even the theater company had but one written copy of the work. The publication of the First Folio, therefore, also marks a shift towards the growing appreciation of plays as reading material. 

This re-discovered copy, in particular, sat in the library of Mount Stuart on the Island of Bute for over 100 years. It has now been verified as genuine, bringing the list of existing copies to 234. Although the number of existing copies is quite large in comparison to other rare items, First Folio copies have nonetheless fetched over £3m at auction, which goes to show that the value of Shakespeare has only grown, and will most likely continue to grow.

The discovery could not have come at a more appropriate time, for this year sees the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death (on April 23). This discovery serves to remind us, therefore, that without the publication of the First Folio, many of Shakespeare’s words may have been lost to history. 

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Luc Tuymans, Flemish Village 1995.  Collection MuHKA, Antwerp

Luc Tuymans, Flemish Village 1995. Collection MuHKA, Antwerp

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