Emory University Selected to Host Shakespeare First Folio


Title page with Droeshout engraving of Shakespeare.

Emory University Chosen for First Folio Tour

Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night. These famous plays and 15 others by Shakespeare would probably have been lost to us without the First Folio. Published in 1623, the First Folio is the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays, and only 233 copies are known today. Next year, to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the Folger Shakespeare Library is sending a First Folio to every state in the United States, and Emory University has been selected for Georgia. Join us in 2016 in celebrating the greatest playwright of the English language with this exhibit from the world’s largest Shakespeare collection.

Emory University was chosen as the Georgia site for the “First Folio Tour,” after a combined effort from Emory University, the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, the World Shakespeare Project, and the Michael C. Carlos Museum. The exhibit will be on display at the Michael C. Carlos Museum on Emory University’s main campus in 2016.


Table of Contents.

About the First Folio

The First Folio of Shakespeare, published in 1623, is one of the most famous books in the world—and for good reason. Published seven years after Shakespeare’s death, the First Folio was the first collected edition of William Shakespeare’s plays. Shakespeare’s fellow actors John Heminge and Henry Condell put together the text of the First Folio.

When Shakespeare died in 1616, only about half of his plays had been published, in small, one-play editions called quartos. Another eighteen are known today only because they were included in the First Folio; without it, they would probably have been lost. Among them are Macbeth, Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, and The Tempest. The First Folio also includes a title-page portrait of Shakespeare by Martin Droeshout. This engraving is one of only two likenesses of Shakespeare that are considered authentic, because it was approved by those who knew him. (The other is the bust from his memorial in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon.)

Folios are large books, created by folding printed sheets in half to create two doublesided leaves, or four pages per sheet. They were usually reserved for important matters—Bibles, history, and science—a category that typically did not include plays! Shakespeare’s friendly rival Ben Jonson published a folio of his own writings, including plays and poems. The 1623 First Folio of Shakespeare, however, is the earliest folio made up only of plays.  Emory University’s Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library also holds a rare fourth folio of Shakespeare’s works, printed in 1685.

Be on the lookout for more information about the upcoming exhibit! Read more about the Folger Shakespeare Library, here.  Follow them on Twitter at @FolgerLibrary, and tweet about the first folio tour, using #SHX400.

All images courtesy of: Shakespeare First Folio, 1623. Folger Shakespeare Library.