William Shakespeare

Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories & Tragedies : The Fourth Folio (1685)

 The Fourth Folio open at the title page

Click here to see a flat image of the title page

Sonia Massai has argued that the text of the Fourth Folio, printed in 1685, shows 'sophisticated editorial intervention', including the correction of errors, the modernization of spellings, and the smoothing out of syntax in accordance with late-seventeenth century norms. It bears the same title page as the Third Folio (and thus its claim to include 'seven plays never before printed in folio' is demonstrably false: these are the same apocryphal plays, plus Pericles, printed in 1663). Because the Fourth Folio was used by Nicholas Rowe in preparing his edition of Shakespeare's plays of 1709 - a monumental act of textual scholarship which has shaped the reception of these works into the twentieth century - it has a particular significance for the transmission of Shakespeare into the modern era.

Text kindly provided, especially for this exhibition, by Lizzie Scott-Baumann