First Folio

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First Folio
by William Shakespeare
The First Folio is the name given by modern scholars to the first published collection of William Shakespeare's plays; its actual title is Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies. Printed in folio format and containing 36 plays (see list of Shakespeare's plays), it was prepared by Shakespeare's colleagues John Heminges and Henry Condell in 1623, about seven years after Shakespeare's death. Although eighteen of Shakespeare's plays had been published in quarto prior to 1623, the First Folio is the only reliable text for about twenty of the plays, and a valuable source text even for many of those previously published. Plays never published before 1623 are marked here with a tick ✓. The Folio includes all of the plays generally accepted to be Shakespeare's, with the exception of Pericles, Prince of Tyre and The Two Noble Kinsmen. It does not include any of his poems.

(transcription project)

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Comedies[edit]

  • 1 The Tempest ✓ — the play was set into type from a manuscript prepared by Ralph Crane, a professional scrivener employed by the King's Men. Crane produced a high-quality result, with formal Act/scene divisions, frequent use of parentheses and hyphenated forms, and other identifiable features.
  • 2 The Two Gentlemen of Verona ✓ — another transcript by Ralph Crane.
  • 3 The Merry Wives of Windsor — another transcript by Ralph Crane.
  • 4 Measure for Measure ✓ — probably another Ralph Crane transcript.
  • 5 The Comedy of Errors ✓ — probably typeset from Shakespeare's "foul papers," lightly annotated.
  • 6 Much Ado About Nothing — typeset from a copy of the quarto, lightly annotated.
  • 7 Love's Labour's Lost — typeset from a corrected copy of Q1.
  • 8 A Midsummer Night's Dream — typeset from a copy of Q2, well-annotated, possibly used as a prompt-book.
  • 9 The Merchant of Venice — typeset from a lightly edited and corrected copy of Q1.
  • 10 As You Like It ✓ — from a quality manuscript, lightly annotated by a prompter.
  • 11 The Taming of the Shrew ✓ — typeset from Shakespeare's "foul papers," somewhat annotated, perhaps as preparation for use as a prompt-book.
  • 12 All's Well That Ends Well ✓ — probably from Shakespeare's "foul papers" or a manuscript of them.
  • 13 Twelfth Night ✓ — typeset either from a prompt-book or a transcript of one.
  • 14 The Winter's Tale ✓ — another transcript by Ralph Crane.

Histories[edit]

  • 15 King John ✓ — uncertain: a prompt-book, or "foul papers."
  • 16 Richard II — typeset from Q3 and Q5, corrected against a prompt-book.
  • 17 Henry IV, Part 1 — typeset from an edited copy of Q5.
  • 18 Henry IV, Part 2 — uncertain: some combination of manuscript and quarto text.
  • 19 Henry V — typeset from Shakespeare's "foul papers."
  • 20 Henry VI, Part 1 ✓ — likely from an annotated transcript of the author's manuscript.
  • 21 Henry VI, Part 2 — probably a Shakespearean manuscript used as a prompt-book.
  • 22 Henry VI, Part 3 — like 2H6, probably a Shakespearean prompt-book.
  • 23 Richard III — a difficult case: probably typeset partially from Q3, and partially from Q6 corrected against a manuscript (maybe "foul papers").
  • 24 Henry VIII ✓ — typeset from a fair copy of the authors' manuscript.

Tragedies[edit]

  • 25 Troilus and Cressida — probably typeset from the quarto, corrected with Shakespeare's "foul papers."
  • 26 Coriolanus ✓ — set from a high-quality authorial transcript.
  • 27 Titus Andronicus — typeset from a copy of Q3 that might have served as a prompt-book.
  • 28 Romeo and Juliet — in essence a reprint of Q3.
  • 29 Timon of Athens ✓— set from Shakespeare's foul papers of a transcript of them.
  • 30 Julius Caesar ✓ — set from a prompt-book, or a transcript of a prompt-book.
  • 31 The Tragedy of Macbeth ✓ — probably set from a prompt-book.
  • 32 Hamlet — one of the most difficult problems in the First Folio: probably typeset from some combination of Q2 and manuscript sources.
  • 33 King Lear — a difficult problem: probably set mainly from Q1 but with reference to Q2, and corrected against a prompt-book.
  • 34 Othello — another difficult problem: probably typeset from Q1, corrected with a quality manuscript.
  • 35 Anthony and Cleopatra ✓ — possibly "foul papers" or a transcript of them.
  • 36 Cymbeline ✓ — possibly another Ralph Crane transcript, or else the official prompt-book.