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Folios and Quartos (Shakespeare)

Folios and Quartos (Shakespeare)

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Encyclopedia
The earliest texts of William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

's works
were published during the 16th and 17th centuries in quarto
Quarto
Quarto could refer to:* Quarto, a size or format of a book in which four leaves of a book are created from a standard size sheet of paper* For specific information about quarto texts of William Shakespeare's works, see:...

 or folio format. Folios are large, tall volumes; quartos are smaller, roughly half the size (see Book size
Book size
The size of a book is generally measured by the height against the width of a leaf, or sometimes the height and width of its cover. A series of terms is commonly used by libraries and publishers for the general sizes of modern books, ranging from "folio" , to "quarto" and "octavo"...

). The publications of the latter are usually abbreviated to Q1, Q2 etc., where the letter stands for "quarto" and the number for the first, secord, or third edition published.

Quartos


18 of the 36 plays in the First Folio were printed in separate and individual editions prior to 1623. Pericles
Pericles, Prince of Tyre
Pericles, Prince of Tyre is a Jacobean play written at least in part by William Shakespeare and included in modern editions of his collected works despite questions over its authorship, as it was not included in the First Folio...

(1609) and The Two Noble Kinsmen
The Two Noble Kinsmen
The Two Noble Kinsmen is a Jacobean tragicomedy, first published in 1634 and attributed to John Fletcher and William Shakespeare. Its plot derives from "The Knight's Tale" in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales....

(1634) also appeared separately before their inclusions in folio collections (the Shakespeare Third Folio and the second Beaumont and Fletcher folio
Beaumont and Fletcher folios
The Beaumont and Fletcher folios were two large folio collections of the stage plays of John Fletcher and his collaborators. The first was issued in 1647, and the second in 1679. The two collections were important in preserving many works of English Renaissance drama.-The first folio, 1647:The 1647...

, respectively). All of these were quarto
Book size
The size of a book is generally measured by the height against the width of a leaf, or sometimes the height and width of its cover. A series of terms is commonly used by libraries and publishers for the general sizes of modern books, ranging from "folio" , to "quarto" and "octavo"...

 editions, with one exception: The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of York, the first edition of Henry VI, part 3
Henry VI, part 3
Henry VI, Part 3 or The Third Part of Henry the Sixt is a history play by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in 1591, and set during the lifetime of King Henry VI of England...

,
was printed in octavo
Book size
The size of a book is generally measured by the height against the width of a leaf, or sometimes the height and width of its cover. A series of terms is commonly used by libraries and publishers for the general sizes of modern books, ranging from "folio" , to "quarto" and "octavo"...

 form in 1594. In chronological order, these publications were:
  • Titus Andronicus
    Titus Andronicus
    Titus Andronicus is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, and possibly George Peele, believed to have been written between 1588 and 1593. It is thought to be Shakespeare's first tragedy, and is often seen as his attempt to emulate the violent and bloody revenge plays of his contemporaries, which were...

    ,
    1594, 1600, 1611
  • Henry VI, part 2
    Henry VI, part 2
    Henry VI, Part 2 or The Second Part of Henry the Sixt is a history play by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in 1591, and set during the lifetime of King Henry VI of England...

    ,
    1594 (The First Part of the Contention Betwixt the Two Famous Houses of York and Lancaster), 1600, 1619
  • Henry VI, part 3
    Henry VI, part 3
    Henry VI, Part 3 or The Third Part of Henry the Sixt is a history play by William Shakespeare believed to have been written in 1591, and set during the lifetime of King Henry VI of England...

    ,
    1595 (The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of York), 1600, 1619
  • Romeo and Juliet
    Romeo and Juliet
    Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy written early in the career of playwright William Shakespeare about two young star-crossed lovers whose deaths ultimately unite their feuding families. It was among Shakespeare's most popular archetypal stories of young, teenage lovers.Romeo and Juliet belongs to a...

    ,
    1597, 1599, 1609
  • Richard II
    Richard II (play)
    King Richard the Second is a history play by William Shakespeare believed to be written in approximately 1595. It is based on the life of King Richard II of England and is the first part of a tetralogy, referred to by some scholars as the Henriad, followed by three plays concerning Richard's...

    ,
    1597, 1598, 1608, 1615
  • Richard III
    Richard III (play)
    Richard III is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in approximately 1591. It depicts the Machiavellian rise to power and subsequent short reign of Richard III of England. The play is grouped among the histories in the First Folio and is most often classified...

    ,
    1597, 1598, 1602, 1605, 1612, 1622
  • Love's Labor's Lost, 1598
  • Henry IV, part 1
    Henry IV, Part 1
    Henry IV, Part 1 is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written no later than 1597. It is the second play in Shakespeare's tetralogy dealing with the successive reigns of Richard II, Henry IV , and Henry V...

    ,
    1598, 1599, 1604, 1608, 1613, 1622
  • Henry IV, part 2
    Henry IV, Part 2
    Henry IV, Part 2 is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed written between 1596 and 1599. It is the third part of a tetralogy, preceded by Richard II and Henry IV, Part 1 and succeeded by Henry V.-Sources:...

    ,
    1600
  • Henry V
    Henry V (play)
    Henry V is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed to be written in approximately 1599. Its full titles are The Cronicle History of Henry the Fifth and The Life of Henry the Fifth...

    ,
    1600, 1602, 1619
  • The Merchant of Venice
    The Merchant of Venice
    The Merchant of Venice is a tragic comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1596 and 1598. Though classified as a comedy in the First Folio and sharing certain aspects with Shakespeare's other romantic comedies, the play is perhaps most remembered for its dramatic...

    ,
    1600, 1619
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream
    A Midsummer Night's Dream
    A Midsummer Night's Dream is a play that was written by William Shakespeare. It is believed to have been written between 1590 and 1596. It portrays the events surrounding the marriage of the Duke of Athens, Theseus, and the Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta...

    ,
    1600, 1619
  • Much Ado About Nothing
    Much Ado About Nothing
    Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy written by William Shakespeare about two pairs of lovers, Benedick and Beatrice, and Claudio and Hero....

    ,
    1600
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor
    The Merry Wives of Windsor
    The Merry Wives of Windsor is a comedy by William Shakespeare, first published in 1602, though believed to have been written prior to 1597. It features the fat knight Sir John Falstaff, and is Shakespeare's only play to deal exclusively with contemporary Elizabethan era English middle class life...

    ,
    1602, 1619
  • Hamlet
    Hamlet
    The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, or more simply Hamlet, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601...

    ,
    1603, 1604, 1611
  • King Lear
    King Lear
    King Lear is a tragedy by William Shakespeare. The title character descends into madness after foolishly disposing of his estate between two of his three daughters based on their flattery, bringing tragic consequences for all. The play is based on the legend of Leir of Britain, a mythological...

    ,
    1608, 1619
  • Troilus and Cressida
    Troilus and Cressida
    Troilus and Cressida is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1602. It was also described by Frederick S. Boas as one of Shakespeare's problem plays. The play ends on a very bleak note with the death of the noble Trojan Hector and destruction of the love between Troilus...

    ,
    1609
  • Pericles, Prince of Tyre
    Pericles, Prince of Tyre
    Pericles, Prince of Tyre is a Jacobean play written at least in part by William Shakespeare and included in modern editions of his collected works despite questions over its authorship, as it was not included in the First Folio...

    ,
    1609, 1611, 1619
  • Othello
    Othello
    The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in approximately 1603, and based on the Italian short story "Un Capitano Moro" by Cinthio, a disciple of Boccaccio, first published in 1565...

    ,
    1622
  • The Two Noble Kinsmen
    The Two Noble Kinsmen
    The Two Noble Kinsmen is a Jacobean tragicomedy, first published in 1634 and attributed to John Fletcher and William Shakespeare. Its plot derives from "The Knight's Tale" in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales....

    ,
    1634.


Six of these were classified "bad quarto
Bad quarto
Bad quarto is a term and concept developed by twentieth-century Shakespeare scholars to explain some problems in the early transmission of the texts of Shakespearean works...

s" by Alfred W. Pollard
Alfred W. Pollard
Alfred William Pollard was an English bibliographer, widely credited for bringing a higher level of scholarly rigor to the study of Shakespearean texts....

 and other scholars associated with the New Bibliography. Popular plays like 1 Henry IV and Pericles were reprinted in their quarto editions even after the First Folio appeared, sometimes more than once.

Shakespeare's poems were also printed in quarto or octavo form:
  • Venus and Adonis
    Venus and Adonis
    Venus and Adonis, a classical myth, was a common subject for art during the Renaissance and Baroque eras. Some works which have been titled Venus and Adonis are:-Literary works:...

    ,
    Q1—1593, Q2—1594 (with later editions in octavo);
  • The Rape of Lucrece
    The Rape of Lucrece
    The Rape of Lucrece is a narrative poem by William Shakespeare about the legendary Lucretia. In his previous narrative poem, Venus and Adonis , Shakespeare had included a dedicatory letter to his patron, the Earl of Southampton, in which he promised to write a "graver work"...

    ,
    Q—1594 (with later editions in octavo);
  • The Phoenix and the Turtle
    The Phoenix and the Turtle
    The Phoenix and the Turtle is an allegorical poem about the death of ideal love by William Shakespeare. It is widely considered to be one of his most obscure works and has led to many conflicting interpretations. It has also been called "the first great published metaphysical poem". The title "The...

    ,
    Q1—1601, Q2—1611 (in Robert Chester's Love's Martyr);
  • The Sonnets
    Shakespeare's sonnets
    Shakespeare's sonnets are 154 poems in sonnet form written by William Shakespeare, dealing with themes such as the passage of time, love, beauty and mortality. All but two of the poems were first published in a 1609 quarto entitled SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS.: Never before imprinted. Sonnets 138 and 144...

    and A Lover's Complaint
    A Lover's Complaint
    A Lover's Complaint is a narrative poem published as an appendix to the original edition of Shakespeare's sonnets. It is given the title 'A Lover's Complaint' in the book, which was published by Thomas Thorpe in 1609...

    ,
    Q—1609.


Differing from the quartos of the plays, the first editions of Shakespeare's narrative poems are extremely well printed. "Richard Field, Shakespeare's first publisher and printer, was a Stratford man, probably a friend of Shakespeare, and the two produced an excellent text." Shakespeare may have had direct involvement in the publication of the two poems, as Ben Jonson
Ben Jonson
Benjamin Jonson was an English Renaissance dramatist, poet and actor. A contemporary of William Shakespeare, he is best known for his satirical plays, particularly Volpone, The Alchemist, and Bartholomew Fair, which are considered his best, and his lyric poems...

 exercised in reference to the publication of his works, but as Shakespeare clearly did not do in connection with his plays.

John Benson published a collected edition of Shakespeare's Poems in 1640; the poems were not added to collections of the plays until the 18th century. (The disputed miscellany The Passionate Pilgrim
The Passionate Pilgrim
The Passionate Pilgrim is an anthology of 20 poems that were attributed to "W. Shakespeare" on the title page, only five of which are accepted by present-day scholars as authentically Shakespearean.-Editions:...

was only printed in octavo: twice, apparently, in 1599, with an O3 in 1612, all by William Jaggard.)

Folios


The folio format was reserved for expensive, prestigious volumes. During Shakespeare's lifetime, stage plays were not generally taken seriously as literature and not considered worthy of being collected into folios, so the plays printed while he was alive were printed as quartos. His poems were never included in his collected works until the eighteenth century.

It was not until 1616, the year of Shakespeare's death, that Ben Jonson
Ben Jonson
Benjamin Jonson was an English Renaissance dramatist, poet and actor. A contemporary of William Shakespeare, he is best known for his satirical plays, particularly Volpone, The Alchemist, and Bartholomew Fair, which are considered his best, and his lyric poems...

 defied convention by issuing a folio collection of his own plays and poems. Seven years later the folio volume Mr. William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories & Tragedies appeared; this edition is now called the First Folio
First Folio
Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies. is the 1623 published collection of William Shakespeare's plays. Modern scholars commonly refer to it as the First Folio....

. It contains 36 plays, 18 of which were printed for the first time. Because Shakespeare was dead, the folio was compiled by John Heminges
John Heminges
John Heminges was an English Renaissance actor. Most noted now as one of the editors of William Shakespeare's 1623 First Folio, Heminges served in his time as an actor and financial manager for the King's Men.-Life:Heminges was born in Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire in 1556...

 and Henry Condell
Henry Condell
Henry Condell was an actor in the King's Men, the playing company for which William Shakespeare wrote. With John Heminges, he was instrumental in preparing the First Folio, the collected plays of Shakespeare, published in 1623....

 (fellow actors in Shakespeare's company), and arranged into comedies, histories and tragedies. The Folio is no more a definitive text than the quartos; many of the plays in the folio omit lines that can be found in quarto versions, and include misprints and textual corruption.

The First Folio was compiled by Heminges and Condell—but it was published by a trio of stationers (booksellers and publishers): William Jaggard
William Jaggard
William Jaggard was an Elizabethan and Jacobean printer and publisher, best known for his connection with the texts of William Shakespeare, most notably the First Folio of Shakespeare's plays...

, his son Isaac Jaggard, and Edward Blount
Edward Blount
Edward Blount was a London publisher of the Elizabethan, Jacobean, and Caroline eras, noted for his publication, in conjunction with William and Isaac Jaggard, of the First Folio of Shakespeare's plays in 1623....

. (William Aspley
William Aspley
William Aspley was a London publisher of the Elizabethan, Jacobean, and Caroline eras. He was a member of the publishing syndicates that issued the First Folio and Second Folio collections of Shakespeare's plays, in 1623 and 1632.-Career:...

 and John Smethwick
John Smethwick
John Smethwick was a London publisher of the Elizabethan, Jacobean, and Caroline eras. Along with colleague William Aspley, Smethwick was one of the "junior partners" in the publishing syndicate that issued the First Folio collection of Shakespeare's plays in 1623. As his title pages specify, his...

 participated in the endeavor as subsidiary partners.) The Jaggards were printers, and did the actual printing of the book. The elder Jaggard has seemed an odd choice to many commentators, given his problematical relationship with the Shakespeare canon: Jaggard issued the suspect collection The Passionate Pilgrim
The Passionate Pilgrim
The Passionate Pilgrim is an anthology of 20 poems that were attributed to "W. Shakespeare" on the title page, only five of which are accepted by present-day scholars as authentically Shakespearean.-Editions:...

in 1599 and 1612, and in 1619 printed the so-called False Folio
False Folio
False Folio is the term that Shakespeare scholars and bibliographers have applied to William Jaggard's printing of ten Shakespearean and pseudo-Shakespearean plays together in 1619, the first attempt to collect Shakespeare's work in a single volume....

, ten pirated or spurious Shakespearean plays, some with false dates and title pages. It is thought that the printing of the First Folio was such an enormous task that the Jaggards' shop was simply needed to get the job done. (William Jaggard was old, infirm, and blind by 1623, and in fact died a month before the First Folio was complete.)

The First Folio was reprinted three times in the 17th century:

The Second Folio
Second Folio
Second Folio is the term applied to the 1632 edition of the works of William Shakespeare, following upon the First Folio of 1623.Much language was updated; there are almost 1,700 changes from the First Folio....

appeared in 1632. Isaac Jaggard had died in 1627, and Edward Blount had transferred his rights to stationer Robert Allot
Robert Allot
Robert Allot was a London bookseller and publisher of the early Caroline era; his shop was at the sign of the black bear in St. Paul's Churchyard...

 in 1630. The Second Folio was published by Allot, William Aspley, Richard Hawkins
Richard Hawkins (publisher)
Richard Hawkins was a London publisher of the Jacobean and Caroline eras. He was a member of the syndicate that published the Second Folio collection of Shakespeare's plays in 1632...

, Richard Meighen
Richard Meighen
Richard Meighen was a London publisher of the Jacobean and Caroline eras. He is noted for his publications of plays of English Renaissance drama; he published the second Ben Jonson folio of 1640/1, and was a member of the syndicate that issued the Second Folio of Shakespeare's collected plays in...

, and John Smethwick, and printed by Thomas Cotes
Thomas Cotes
Thomas Cotes was a London printer of the Jacobean and Caroline eras, best remembered for printing the Second Folio edition of Shakespeare's plays in 1632.-Life and work:...

.

The Third Folio was issued in 1663, published by Philip Chetwinde
Philip Chetwinde
Philip Chetwinde was a seventeenth-century London bookseller and publisher, noted for his publication of the Third Folio of Shakespeare's plays.-A rough start:Chetwinde was originally a clothworker...

; Chetwinde had married Robert Allot's widow and so obtained the rights to the book. To the second impression of the Third Folio (1664) he added seven plays, including Pericles, Prince of Tyre
Pericles, Prince of Tyre
Pericles, Prince of Tyre is a Jacobean play written at least in part by William Shakespeare and included in modern editions of his collected works despite questions over its authorship, as it was not included in the First Folio...

and six others not now considered authentically Shakespearean: Locrine
Locrine
Locrine is an Elizabethan play depicting the legendary Trojan founders of the nation of England and of Troynovant . The play presents a cluster of complex and unresolved problems for scholars of English Renaissance theatre.-Date:...

,
The London Prodigal
The London Prodigal
The London Prodigal is a play in English Renaissance theatre, a city comedy set in London, in which a prodigal son learns the error of his ways. The play was published in quarto in 1605 by the stationer Nathaniel Butter, and printed by Thomas Cotes...

,
The Puritan
The Puritan
The Puritan, or the Widow of Watling Street, also known as The Puritan Widow, is an anonymous Jacobean stage comedy, first published in 1607. It is often attributed to Thomas Middleton, but also belongs to the Shakespeare Apocrypha due to its title page attribution to "W.S.".-Date and...

,
Sir John Oldcastle
Sir John Oldcastle
Sir John Oldcastle is an Elizabethan play about John Oldcastle, a controversial 14th-15th century rebel and Lollard who was seen by some of Shakespeare's contemporaries as a proto-Protestant martyr.-Publication:...

,
Thomas Lord Cromwell
Thomas Lord Cromwell
Thomas Lord Cromwell is an Elizabethan history play, depicting the life of Thomas Cromwell, 1st Earl of Essex, the minister of King Henry VIII of England....

,
and A Yorkshire Tragedy
A Yorkshire Tragedy
A Yorkshire Tragedy is an early Jacobean era stage play, a domestic tragedy printed in 1608. The play was originally assigned to William Shakespeare, though the modern critical consensus rejects this attribution, favouring Thomas Middleton....

.
(See: Shakespeare Apocrypha
Shakespeare Apocrypha
The Shakespeare Apocrypha is a group of plays that have sometimes been attributed to William Shakespeare, but whose attribution is questionable for various reasons...

.) The Third Folio is relatively rare, compared to the Second and Fourth, probably because unsold copies were destroyed in the Great Fire of London
Great Fire of London
The Great Fire of London was a major conflagration that swept through the central parts of the English city of London, from Sunday, 2 September to Wednesday, 5 September 1666. The fire gutted the medieval City of London inside the old Roman City Wall...

 in 1666.

The Fourth Folio appeared in 1685, published by R. Bentley, E. Brewster, R. Chiswell, and H. Herringman
Henry Herringman
Henry Herringman was a prominent London bookseller and publisher in the second half of the 17th century. He is especially noted for his publications in English Renaissance drama and English Restoration drama; he was the first publisher of the works of John Dryden...

. Like the Third, it contains 43 plays. (Brewster, Chiswell, and Herringman were members of the six-man syndicate that published the third Ben Jonson folio
Ben Jonson folios
The folio collections of Ben Jonson's works published in the seventeenth century were crucial developments in the publication of English literature and English Renaissance drama. The first folio collection, issued in 1616, treated stage plays as serious works of literature instead of popular...

 in 1692; Herringman was one of three stationers who issued the second Beaumont and Fletcher folio
Beaumont and Fletcher folios
The Beaumont and Fletcher folios were two large folio collections of the stage plays of John Fletcher and his collaborators. The first was issued in 1647, and the second in 1679. The two collections were important in preserving many works of English Renaissance drama.-The first folio, 1647:The 1647...

 in 1679.)

The Fourth Folio in turn served as the base for the series of eighteenth-century editions of Shakespeare's plays. Nicholas Rowe used the Fourth Folio text as the foundation of his 1709
1709 in literature
The year 1709 in literature involved some significant events.-Events:*February 2 - Alexander Selkirk, the original Robinson Crusoe, is rescued and returns to civilisation.*April 12 - The Tatler is founded by Richard Steele....

 edition, and subsequent editors—Pope
Alexander Pope
Alexander Pope was an 18th-century English poet, best known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer. He is the third-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, after Shakespeare and Tennyson...

, Theobald
Lewis Theobald
Lewis Theobald , British textual editor and author, was a landmark figure both in the history of Shakespearean editing and in literary satire...

, etc.—both adapted and reacted to Rowe's text in their own editions. (See: Shakespeare's Editors
Shakespeare's editors
Shakespeare's editors were essential in the development of the modern practice of producing printed books and the evolution of textual criticism....

.)

External links

  • First Folio—HTML version of this title.
  • First Folio—plain vanilla text from Project Gutenberg
    Project Gutenberg
    Project Gutenberg is a volunteer effort to digitize and archive cultural works, to "encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks". Founded in 1971 by Michael S. Hart, it is the oldest digital library. Most of the items in its collection are the full texts of public domain books...

  • First Folio—digitally scanned pages from a copy of the first folio
  • Quartos—high resolution scans of the British Library's 93 copies of Shakespeare plays printed in quarto before 1642
  • Quartos—high resolution scans of the 32 copies of Hamlet printed in quarto before 1642 with XML transcriptions