Today's post was written by Librarian James Sterner.
November 2023 marks the 400th anniversary of the publication of Shakespeare’s First Folio. Published in November of 1623, seven years after Shakespeare’s death, the First Folio was the first printed collection of Shakespeare’s plays. About half of the First Folio’s 36 plays had never been printed before.
750 copies of the First Folio were printed between February 1622 and November 1623. Of these, 235 copies are known to have survived today. There is currently a display on the lower level of the library which shows how books were made during the Elizabethan period, from typesetting to printing to bookbinding, along with several books about the printing of the First Folio and the Norton facsimile edition of the First Folio open for all to page through.
Also on display are replicas of the uncut sheets of the first quarto edition of Henry V, first printed in 1600, with instructions on how to fold and cut the sheets, just as bookbinders would have done during the time of Shakespeare. Stop by the library to take home a set of sheets and make your own Shakespearean quarto!