These images are taken from the First Folio – the first edition of the collected plays of William Shakespeare – published in 1623. Prior to this date, some of his plays had been published individually, but the editors of the First Folio took his entire dramatic output and arranged it, not always logically, into three distinct genres. For anyone with an interest in the physicality of Shakespeare’s texts, the following images give us the best possible sense of how his printed word would have been read in the years immediately following his death. Originals of the First Folio are now housed in libraries around the world.
Detail from A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Act 1.1.1 Macbeth
The balcony scene from Romeo & Juliet
Shylock’s speech from The Merchant of Venice
Much Ado About Nothing
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