The Book of William

Among the many new books at the Langsdale Library, The Book of William: How Shakespeare’s First Folio Conquered the World by Paul Collins, is worthy of note. [Call number: Z8813 .C65 2009]  It describes the publishing of the First Folio by Shakespeare’s friends and the adventures of the various copies over the centuries.  Some odd information contained in the book is as follows:

  • Oxford University threw away their First Folio when the new and improved Second Folio was published!
  • Howard Staunton, of chess set fame, was the first to lithograph the First Folio for multiple copying.
  • Henry Folger began collecting with the Staunton book and ended by establishing the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. with 79 First Folios!
  • One of the First Folios is called the “Farting Folio” because it was held in an unsavory location for some centuries and is odoriferous when you turn the pages!
  • Japan is digitizing their Folios so that the scholar will be able to compare the same plays in the First Folio, Second Folio, Third Folio, and Fourth Folio
  • Langsdale’s Special Collections has a facsimile of the First Folio
    (well, OK, that may not be specifically mentioned in Collins’ book, but we have a facsimile of the First Folio nonetheless)

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