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The Shakespeare First Folio

There's something about the Shakespeare First Folio.


Idolized, Bowdlerized — on occasions even vandalized — the First Folio of Shakespeare’s plays is one of the most studied and influential books in the English language. This remarkable volume has been prized by collectors for nearly three centuries, and its significance as a cultural artifact is ongoing. Its allure has led more than one individual astray (witness the theft of the Durham copy).


The Folger, home to nearly a third of the world’s extant First Folios and uniquely positioned to tell this story, explored the timeless allure of this book in an exhibition, Fame, Fortune, & Theft, and a companion lecture series which is the source of these podcasts:

  • Selby Kiffer of Sotheby's takes listeners inside the rare book auction world and xplores why the First Folio continues to rise in price even though it's not a particularly rare book in The Shakespeare First Folio at Auction: The Book that Breaks All the Rules.

    The First Folio at Auction

  • The Folger's Steve Galbraith, Curator of Books, and Renate Mesmer, Head of Conservation give an illustrated lecture on the discovery and return of the Durham copy of the First Folio many years after its theft in To Catch a Thief: The Recovery of the Durham First Folio.

    To Catch a Thief

  • Scholar Ian Gadd of England's Bath Spa University shares how books like the First Folio were printed and published in Guns, Barges, and Books: Reassessing the Stationer's Company in Early Modern London.

Guns, Barges, and Books

Recorded in the summer of 2011 at the Folger Shakespeare Library.


The First Folio of Shakespeare

Inside the Collection

View a First Folio
Online or In a Visit

Related Items

Fame, Fortune, & Theft
The Shakespeare First Folio

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Folger Magazine
The Curious Case of the Missing Durham First Folio


The First Folio
A 400 Year Obsession

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