The Shakespeare First Folio: The History of the Book: Volume I: Account of the First Folio Based on its Sales and Prices, 1623-2000

The Shakespeare First Folio is arguably the greatest book ever written in the English language, and it is the only source for half the plays (including Macbeth and The Tempest). Vast amounts have been written on it up to its publication - for example on its printing and proofreading - but very little since it left the press in 1623. And yet its story is a highly significant contribution to the history of the book worldwide, and crucial to the study of Shakespeare's 'afterlives'. The present volume breaks new ground in its account of the price and sales history of the books - from one pound in the seventeenth century to over half a million pounds today - placing this in the context both of Shakespeare's standing and of the contemporary world of antiquarian book sales. It charts the number and distribution of copies at the beginning and end of the twentieth century, surveys the nineteen facsimile editions since 1807, and assesses earlier listings of the work since 1824, including Sidney Lee's Census (1902). It also indicates the history of the volumes' ownership - ranging from counry parson to President of Standard Oil.