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The Second Folio
William Shakespeare, 1632
SHAKESPEARE, William (1564-1616). Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. Published according to the true Originall Copies. The Second Impression. Edited by John Heminge (d. 1630) and Henry Condell (d. 1627). London: Printed by Thomas Cotes for Richard Hawkins, and are to be sold at his shop in Chancery Lane, 1632.

The Second Folio. Second edition, first issue, of Shakespeares collected plays, the most important work in the English language. The tall, handsome Newbold-Revel copy. Shakespeare’s collected works are considered the most important and influential in the English language, described by Samuel Johnson as “the mirrour of life” and by his contemporary Ben Jonson as “not of an age but for all time.” The urge to read, rather than just see, Shakespeare’s plays surfaced in his own lifetime, with about half of his works appearing as single quarto editions. The First Folio, collecting Shakespeare’s plays for the first time and dividing them into the thematic categories of Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies was issued in 1623; this Second Folio, appearing nine years later, is a page-for-page reprint of the First Folio. While errors were introduced during the course of reprinting, “the text of the present edition shows signs of careful, if unauthoritative, revision” (Greg). Its publication was shared by the five publishers listed in the colophon, all of whom held the copyright to one or more of the plays. The present is one of the copies reserved for Richard Hawkins, whose name and shop address appear on the title. Other copies were reserved for Robert Allot, which his widow assigned to John Legat the younger and Andrew Crooke the elder in 1637; they were responsible for subsequent issues of the Second Folio that appeared around 1641 and later.

The Second Folio contains John Miltons first appearance in print, his anonymous epitaph to Shakespeare in 16 verses: “What neede my Shakespeare for his honour'd bones.” It appears on the same page as the eight-line “Upon the Effigies” (leaf A5r), which is conjugate to the title page (leaf A2r). Both of these leaves are recorded in various issues and states (cf. Todd). The present copy is variant 1f (i.e., first issue, state with imprint “Printed by Tho. Cotes for Richard Hawkins…in Chancery Lane”); its conjugate leaf A5r is variant 1b (i.e., first issue, second state, characterized by “VVorkes” instead of “Workes” on the third line and by several other textual and typographical variations). Greg III:1113; Pforzheimer 906; STC 22274c; W.B. Todd, “The Issues and States of the Second Folio and Milton's Epitaph,” in Studies in Bibliography 5 (1952-53), pp. 81-108. The earliest bookplate in this copy is that of Sir Francis Skipwith, Newbold-Revel, Warwickshire, just about 30 miles from Stratford-upon-Avon.

Median folio (330 x 217mm). 454 leaves. Roman and italic types, engraved portrait of Shakespeare by Martin Droeshout in third state as usual, double column text within typographical rules, headlines and catchwords, woodcut head- and tailpieces and initials (some spotting on portrait, occasional spotting/soiling elsewhere, some pale dampstain to last several gatherings, soiling to pp. 190-191). 18th-century calf (rebacked preserving part of the spine, dampstain to corners); custom red levant morocco pull-off case. Provenance: Sir Francis Skipwith, Newbold-Revel, Warwickshire (c.1705-1778; bookplate) – offered by J. Pearson & Co, booksellers of London, in 1910 Templeton Crocker (1884-1948, California arts patron, adventurer, and opera librettist; bookplate) – offered by John Howell, Books, San Francisco, 1961.

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Heather Weintraub
Heather Weintraub Specialist, Books, Manuscripts, & Archives

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