They’re artifacts, nearly 400 years old, and only 233 are known to have survived to today. But what else has driven collectors to pay as much as $6 million for copies of Shakespeare’s First Folio? What renders this 900-page book so important that it merits a nationwide tour?
Jonathan P. Lamb, an assistant professor of English at the University of Kansas whose specialties include early modern drama, particularly Shakespeare, explores and explains the Folio’s mystique. Included is a look at how books were constructed in Shakespeare’s time and why that construction mattered.
Folios – with each printed sheet folded once in half to produce four pages – tended to be bigger and more expensive than quartos, whose sheets were folded twice to make eight pages. And they were more prestigious, befitting the first full compilation of the Bard’s plays.