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William Shakespeare Printed Works

Date range: 17th-21st centuries

Number of items: 1,400 items (dispersed).

The entire publishing history of William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is represented in the Library's rich collections. All four Shakespeare Folios are present, published in 1623, 1632, 1664 and 1685. The Library's copy of Mr. VVilliam Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies (London: Isaac Iaggard and Ed Blount, 1623), commonly known as the First Folio, is interesting as being the actual copy used by Lewis Theobald (1688-1744) in 1733 in preparation of his edition of Shakespeare's works.

The First Folio is also represented by many 19th- and 20th-century facsimiles. These include Wright's type facsimile ([London]: E. and J. Wright, [1808]) and the first photo-lithographic facsimile (London: Day & Son Ltd, 1866), produced under the supervision of Howard Staunton (1810-1874).

Of even greater interest is the copy of Shake-speares Sonnets, with the variant imprint: At London: By G. Eld for T[homas]. T[horpe]. and are to be solde by Iohn Wright, dwelling at Christ Church gate, 1609, and the contemporary price of 5d marked on the title page.

The Library's grangerized copy of The Plays of William Shakspeare, 4th edn (London: T. Longman, 1793), edited by Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) and George Steevens (1736-1800), was formerly Steevens's own copy which he bequeathed to Lord Spencer. Steevens enriched his copy by the insertion of several thousand engravings of great rarity.

The Library also holds many deluxe, private press and illustrated editions of Shakespeare's works, together with modern texts and critical studies.

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