The First Folio

The First Folio of Shakespeare, published in 1623, is an extraordinary book. About half of Shakespeare's plays had never previously appeared in print, including As You Like It, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, The Tempest, and many more. Without the First Folio, 18 plays might have been lost forever. Learn more about this remarkable book—and the Folger's collection of First Folios, the largest in the world.

See a First Folio

Did you know?

One of the Folger's many First Folios is on permanent display in the Great Hall.

Come view it in person.

About the Folger First Folios

What Is a First Folio?

The First Folio is the first printed collection of Shakespeare's plays, published in 1623, seven years after his death. Shakespeare's friends and fellow actors John Heminge and Henry Condell assembled the 36 plays. But what is a folio? What did a First Folio cost? Why is its portrait of Shakespeare so important? How many copies survive? Learn more about this classic book.

History of the First Folio

The First Folio probably sold well, but it was hardly the equivalent of a modern-day best-seller. Today, however, it is far more famous than other English books of its day—including some that are much rarer. How did the First Folio become a star in the time since it was published? Learn more about who owned and collected the First Folio and what gave it a special allure.

Inside the First Folio

Printing the First Folio

How was the First Folio made? Learn how the type was set and the printed sheets were laid out and folded. By comparing multiple copies of the First Folio, scholars have discovered much more about early modern printers and how they worked. Watch videos or try out a visually rich, interactive teaching tool, DIY First Folio, to learn more.

More First Folio Resources

As one of the world's most famous books, located at the core of Shakespeare studies, the First Folio has inspired a host of Folger resources. Aimed at a variety of audiences, they delve into every aspect of its story, from the First Folio's creation to its portrait of Shakespeare and much more. Listen to Folger Shakespeare Unlimited podcasts on multiple aspects of the First Folio, read posts about the First Folio on our Folger blogs The Collation and Shakespeare & Beyond, and explore videos, books, and stories about this iconic volume.

Tools & Resources

 

First Folio Book Reader
Use our book reader to view a full digital version of Folger First Folio 68

Digital Image Collection on LUNA of the First Folio pages
Explore downloadable images of every page of Folger First Folio 68

DIY First Folio
A teaching tool on printing the First Folio, created with the support of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanites

Also see  DIY Quarto
A companion project to DIY First Folio