Shakespeare’s First Folio comes to Emory

The first collected edition of William Shakespeare’s plays will be at the Carlos Museum from November 5 through December 11
Shakespeare's first folio Atlanta
Shakespeare First Folio, 1623, Folger Shakespeare Library

Shakespeare First Folio, 1623. Folger Shakespeare Library

In 1623, seven years after William Shakespeare’s death, friends from his acting company published the first edition of his collected plays, known as the First Folio. Without the 900-plus-page book, many of Shakespeare’s most iconic works would have been lost to time. This month the First Folio arrives at Emory’s Carlos Museum (November 5-December 11) as part of a nationwide tour, courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. The exhibition is part of Emory’s yearlong celebration of the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death.

  • Of the 750 First Folios that were printed, just 235 remain. The Folger owns 82.
  • The book contains 36 plays, 18 of which exist today only because they were first printed in the folio. They include All’s Well That Ends WellAs You Like ItHenry VIIIMacbethThe Taming of the ShrewThe Tempest, and Twelfth Night.
  • In the 1600s folios were usually reserved for religious, reference, or royal works. Shakespeare’s was the first to be made up of plays.
  • Like a modern-day author photo, the folios feature engravings of the playwright. Martin Droeshout’s is considered the most authentic, though the exact image changes from book to book.
  • The First Folio is one of the most sought-after books of all time. In 2016 one sold for $2.75 million at Christie’s auction in London.

This article originally appeared in our November 2016 issue.