SHAKESPEARE, William (1564-1616). Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. Published according to the true Original Copies. Unto which is added, Seven Plays, never before Printed in Folio. The Fourth edition. Edited by John Heminge (d. 1630) and Henry Condell (d. 1627), except for Pericles and six spurious plays added by the publisher of the Third Folio, Philip Chetwin (d. 1680). London: Printed [by Robert Roberts and others] for H. Herringman, E. Brewster, and R. Bentley, 1685.
Large 2o (362 x 227 mm). 458 leaves: COMPLETE. Engraved portrait of Shakespeare by Martin Droeshout in fourth state, above the verses 'To the Reader' on verso of the first leaf. Title with fleur-de-lis device [McKerrow 263]. Roman and italic text types. Double-column within typographical rules. Woodcut initials. (Upper margin of the first leaf with minor repair, last five leaves with lower corners renewed, tiny holes or tears on some 20 leaves [including F5, H5, Ff4, Nn1, *Ccc4, Fff4, Ppp1], and paper flaws on Dd2 and Vvv3 affecting a few letters, minor printing flaw on Bb5v, tears on F4, I3 and Eee6 crossing text, the first and last repaired, tiny wormholes in lower margin of first six gatherings, minor staining and browning in places [heavier on S5v and Sss6]; apart from these minor defects, a fine copy IN CRISP CONDITION.) Near-contemporary calf gilt (rebacked in morocco with original spine panels laid down, endpapers renewed, few repairs at corners); orange morocco folding case.
Provenance: Anne and Elizabeth Yarborough, of Campsmount, Doncaster (18th-century armorial bookplate); J.C. Yarborough (signature on pastedown); J.E. Cooke Yarborough (sold Sotheby's London, 20 June 1928, lot 567); Sir Leicester Harmsworth (signature on pastedown dated 20 June 1928).
A FINE COPY OF THE FOURTH FOLIO
The Brewster/Webster issue of the fourth collected edition of Shakespeare's plays. Three issues appeared at about the same time: the present; one in which Richard Chiswell shared; and the third which was marketed through the booksellers Joseph Knight and Francis Saunders. Only Henry Herringman's name appears in the titles of all three issues.
The edition was set from the second issue of the Third Folio, and it is the last of the 17th-century editions of Shakespeare's works. The seven additional plays are included again in this edition and are mentioned on the title, which is faced by the portrait and verses. The plate for the portrait, worn by numerous impressions, received heavy cross-hatching for this edition. This is the only folio edition in which each play does not start on a fresh page, though it is printed in a larger fount and is more liberally spaced than the three earlier editions. The two pages of L1 are printed in smaller type, presumably in order to accomodate text which had been omitted.
The Fourth Folio remained the favored edition among editors, collectors and readers until Samuel Johnson and Edward Capell demonstrated the superiority of the First Folio. The most striking difference with the Fourth Folio is its height: Herringman and his co-publishers decided on a larger paper size to increase the number of lines per page and decrease the bulk of the book. Even with the additional plays, the Fourth Folio contains nearly the same number of sheets as the First and Second. Bartlett 123; Greg III, pp.1119-21; cf Pforzheimer 910 and 911; Wing S-2915.