The #FirstFolio: The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare

The First Folio: The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare


The First Folio of Shakespeare, published in 1623, is one of the most famous books in the world—and for good reason. Published seven years after Shakespeare’s death, the First Folio was the first collected edition of William Shakespeare’s plays. Shakespeare’s fellow actors John Heminge and Henry Condell put together the text of the First Folio.

When Shakespeare died in 1616, only about half of his plays had been published, in small, one-play editions called quartos. Another eighteen are known today only because they were included in the First Folio; without it, they would probably have been lost. Among them are Macbeth, Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, The Tempest and Hamlet.

Folios are large books, created by folding printed sheets in half to create two double-sided leaves, or four pages per sheet. They were usually reserved for important matters—Bibles, history, and science —a category that did not include plays. Shakespeare’s friendly rival Ben Jonson published a folio of his own writings, including plays and poems. The 1623 First Folio of Shakespeare, however, is the earliest folio made up only of plays.

The Folger Shakespeare Library, in partnership with Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association, is touring a First Folio of Shakespeare in 2016 to all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. The First Folio comes to Emory through a combined effort of the university, the Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library, the World Shakespeare Project, and the Michael C. Carlos Museum, where the exhibit is currently on display.

The First Folio, which will be on view at Emory’s Michael C. Carlos Museum from November 5 through December 11, is the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays, published seven years after the Bard’s death. This year also marks the 400th anniversary of his death.


The First Folio was the only source for eighteen of Shakespeare’s thirty eight plays, according to the Folger’s website. Without it, the plays might have disappeared from history.

Visit and celebrate Shakespeare’s extraordinary legacy and see not only one of the most influential books in history, but the Second (1632), Third (1663), and Fourth (1685) Folios. This is a rare and exclusive opportunity to view these important books. This rare opportunity is made possible by a loan of the Second and Third Folios from Rose Library benefactor Stuart A. Rose.

For more information about the exhibit and activities, visit the Emory University site:

Location Michael C. Carlos Museum
University Event Topic Arts, Entertainment, Student & Campus Life
Department/Organization Carlos Museum, English Department
Event Open To All
Venue Michael C. Carlos Museum

Special thanks to Emory University and the Michael C, Carlos Museum for allowing me to share this, and a big up to Laura McCarty, Executive Vice President of the Georgia Humanities Council for extended an invitation which allowed me to attend the preview on November 4th.

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About the Author:

I am a writer. Originally from Tennessee, I now live in Atlanta, GA. History, travel, and international culture are my specialties. Look for my fictional stories, written as Hunter S. Jones. If you love Tudor England, check out PHOENIX RISING a story of magic, secrets, betrayal and revenge based on the last hour of Anne Boleyn's life. Now on Amazon and in a bookstore near you.
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