A general note about the Shakespeare folios

The bibliographical scholar, A. W. Pollard, has written:

In the [First] Folio of 1623 and the quartos by which it was preceded we have the only documents which can pretend to any original authority for the formation of Shakespeare's text. The subsequent quartos are of little or no interest save as showing the hold upon the reading public exercised by certain plays.

The [Second, Third and Fourth] Folios are in a different position. To the student of the history of Shakespeare's text they are indispensable. No [17th century] scholar was called in to edit any one of them. The actual editors of the successive Folios [were] probably in each case the printer's ordinary corrector of the press.

We must not claim too much for these printer-editors. It cannot be said that they rose to the height of their opportunities, either in purging Shakespeare's text of obvious errors or in providing the British public with attractive editions likely to win for him fresh readers. But with all their lack of enterprise the [four large folios] show they were confronted by a greater demand than existed for the works of any other Elizabethan playwright.

Shakespeare's works:  

The First Folio Edition of the Plays  1623 

The Second Folio  1632   

The Third Folio  1663/1664

The Fourth Folio  1685  

Richard the Second 1608

The Pavier Quartos  1619

Pavier Quartos Binding

Assorted quarto editions post 1623

The Poems  1640

Other Shakespeare-related items from the collection:

Francis Bacon.  The Advancement of Learning . . . . 1605. 

Jean Froissart.   . . . Cronicles of England, France, Spain . . . . 1523-1525

Geoffrey Chaucer.  The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer: Newly printed . . . . 1545.

A Mirror for Magistrates . . . . 1610.

Charles [and Mary] Lamb. Tales from Shakespeare.  1807.

North’s Plutarch. 1579.

Samuel Daniel

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