Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies (The First Folio)

This is the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s dramatic works. Published seven years after his death, it includes thirty-six plays, many of which would otherwise have been lost. The Bodleian’s copy was apparently the only one to go straight to an institution on publication, the rest going to private libraries. At some point before 1674 it left the Bodleian, perhaps because it was deemed redundant after the acquisition of the third folio edition of Shakespeare’s plays in 1664. In 1905 it suddenly reappeared. Now in private hands, it was offered for sale, and to its considerable relief the Bodleian succeeded in reacquiring the book after an urgent public appeal. Most unusually, this copy of the First Folio is still in its original binding.