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William Shakespeare was born in 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. Over his illustrious career he wrote 38 plays, 154 sonnets, and variety of other works. After he died in 1616, several of his contemporaries began the assembly of his works into what is referred to as the First Folio in 1623.


The word folio refers merely to the physical dimensions of the book which are generally listed at about 15" tall. It's also interesting to note that these texts come from a very different point in the English language (Early Modern English) wherein a great many of the words we are accustomed to certain spellings and pronunciations today, they had a very different form then.


One of the first trip ups that I had when reading them for the first time was the lower-case "s" takes the form of a lower-case "f" minus the cross in the middle. And in many of the texts, this one not withstanding, the use of two "V"s to represent a "W" for which I imagine dealt greatly with the printing press and for a conservation of resources it made most logical sense to use those two letters rather than creating a new single letter.

This iteration is the Fourth Folio of Shakespeare's plays which was published in 1685. I was struck within my first encounter with this at the beginning of the book are a section of forwards and notes written by contemporaries of Shakespeare's communicating as to what his works not only meant to their age but also what they meant to them personally. Some wrote poetically, others wrote in prose, but all spoke eloquently of the Bard's work.

Additional pieces from this book

Shakespeare, William. 1685. Mr. William Shakespear's Comedies, histories, and tragedies.

London : Printed for H. Herringman, E. Brewster, and R. Bentley. 

     Norlin Library--Special Collections--Stacks


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