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Folger First Folio 68

Detail across a double-page spread showing marbled endpapers with swirls of navy blue, royal blue, yellow, and deep red arranged in horizontal rows of nine. Bookplate on left has printed heraldic device with

Folger First Folio 68 was owned by the Wodehouse family; it includes a bookplate for the Wodehouse library with the date 1838. We don’t know if it was acquired then, but if it was, John Wodehouse, 2nd Baron Wodehouse, would have probably been the purchaser. He would have left it to his grandson, also named John Wodehouse, 3rd Baron, who became 1st Earl of Kimberley in 1866. A prominent Liberal politician, the earl often served in the British cabinet. During the discovery of diamond deposits in South Africa, he was the colonial secretary. An early mining camp was named Kimberley after him, and later became the town of the same name. The author P.G. Wodehouse, born in 1881, was a relative of the family.

In 1924, the Wodehouse First Folio came on the market. The Folgers purchased it from Bernard Quaritch Ltd. in London for $37,000, the fifth highest price they paid for a First Folio. Several plays in this First Folio, including The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Macbeth, and others, have marked-up passages, often several lines long. Some are famous speeches, including Marc Antony’s “Friends, Romans, countrymen.” Others may suggest ways in which the text could be shortened.

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Read a blog post that includes this First Folio in The Collation