The British Library to publish luxury facsimile of Shakespeare’s First Folio for 400th anniversary

The British Library is set to publish a luxury, slip-cased facsimile of a complete Shakespeare First Folio from the library’s collections to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio. 

The publication is reportedly set to be released on October 5th, 2023, and will be co-published by RizzoliElecta in North America. 

According to The Bookseller, the facsimile edition will faithfully reproduce one of the finest copies held in the British Library’s collection. The First Folio is the first collected edition of William Shakespeare’s plays, collated and published in 1623, seven years after his death. The facsimile edition is a full-size reproduction of one of the most complete early copies of the First Folio, selected and luxuriously produced by the British Library. The new book chronicles the making of the First Folio and uncovers tantalising new traces of Shakespeare’s handiwork.

Shakespeare’s First Folio is an extraordinary book that groups his plays into three categories – comedies, histories and tragedies – for the first time. The First Folio is the only reliable text we have for 20 of Shakespeare’s known works, and without it, 18 plays might have been lost forever. The book is significant because it is the closest thing we have to the plays as he wrote them since Shakespeare’s original manuscript copies of the plays have been gone for centuries. The First Folio is one of the most important and valuable books in English ever committed to print.

The value of a First Folio today is extremely high, it is one of the most valuable printed books in the world, and a copy sold at Christie’s in New York in October 2001 made a $6.16 million hammer price.

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