Comedies, Histories and Tragedies. Published according to the true Original Copies. Unto which is added seven plays never before printed in folio.

Comedies, Histories and Tragedies. Published according to the true Original Copies. Unto which is added seven plays never before printed in folio. William Shakespeare.
Comedies, Histories and Tragedies. Published according to the true Original Copies. Unto which is added seven plays never before printed in folio.
Comedies, Histories and Tragedies. Published according to the true Original Copies. Unto which is added seven plays never before printed in folio.

Printed for H. Herringman, E.Brewster and R.Bentley at the Anchor in the New Exchange... 1685. The Fourth Folio. [pi]2, A4, A-Y6, Z4, Bb-Zz6, *Aaa-*Ddd6, *Eee8, Aaa-Zzz6, Aaaa-Bbbb6, Cccc2. Folio (368x235mm). Contemporary mottled calf, with red morocco title label to spine and raised bands with gilt device to compartments. Engraved frontispiece portrait of Shakeseare by Martin Droeshout, with To The Reader verse by Ben Johnson below. Woodcut initials in the text. Binding sometime neatly rebacked and recornered retaining original spine. Internally, notably clean with only minor flaws being, small stains to Bbb5r, repaired corner to Hh1 and small marginal chips to Gg3, Rr6, Uu3, *Ddd6 and a few marginal closed tears or marks, but importantly no loss of text. A very well preserved copy indeed.

Shakespeare's fourth folio. The last of the 17th-century editions of Shakespeare's works, all of which rank among the highest points in English literature, and without which the world would have virtually no record of some of the greatest and most influential works of western literature.
"So absolute is Shakespeare's achievement that he as himself come to seem like great creating nature: the common bond of humankind, the principle of hope, the symbol of the imagination's power to transcend time-bound beliefs and assumptions, peculiar historical circumstances, and specific artistic conventions" - Stephen Greenblatt (The Norton Shakespeare).
The fourth folio, the most statuesque of the Shakespeare folios, was the favoured edition among collectors until the mid eighteenth century, when Samuel Johnson and Edward Capell convincingly argued for the primacy of the first folio text.
The current public availability of Shakespeare's folios is discussed at length by Harold Otness in his 1990 census,
"The number of copies of each edition printed is lost, but speculation puts the press runs at several hundred copies each... American institutions hold at least 561 copies of the four editions combined, which may constitute as many as half of the extant copies worldwide... Most copies of the Shakespeare Folios show considerable wear and have replacement pages. This is particularly true of the title and portrait pages and other introductory leaves... The Folios have been subjected to considerable wear over the years, and 'perfect' copies are rare today"

PROVENANCE: Simon Harcourt, first Viscount Harcourt (1661-1727), bookplate to verso of title, politician, Lord Chancelor (1713-1714) and instrumental in the unification of England and Scotland; thence by descent (armorial bookplate of Edward Harcourt on pastedown).

Pforzheimer 910; Wing 2916
(Item #1288)

Out of stock