First Folio 1623

The First Folio is a collection of plays published in November 1623 with typesetting begun in the Spring of 1621. The publication, priced at one pound, was intended for private libraries and to be bound by the owner. The only comparable publication of plays printed previously was the poet and playwright Ben Jonson’s Workes, issued in 1616.

Of the thirty-six plays contained in the 1623 volume, twenty of them had not been printed previously. Sixteen existing quarto texts were incorporated and, of these, just three were without amendment. All the plays were attributed to William Shakespeare whose name had appeared on a number of the earlier printed quartos.

Lavish tributes to Shakespeare, from Ben Jonson, Hugh Holland and Leonard Digges , introduce the plays, although such admiration was not forthcoming from these writers during Shakespeare’s lifetime. It’s also worth noting that other multiple authorship collections were printed under Shakespeare’s name including The Passionate Pilgrim of 1599 and The False Folio of 1619. It is acknowledged that these collections were not solely Shakespeare’s work even though they were originally printed under his name.

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