Senate House Shakespeare Folios

I had the privilege to visit London University's Senate House Library yesterday with the Bibliographical Society to view the library's Shakespeare folios. It was very interesting to compare the four editions, all published in the seventeenth century. Although there was an almost slavish copying of both the typography and text, the style evolves slowly over time (not necessarily for the better). The text, rather than being corrected over time, tended to retain the errors of earlier editions and add some new ones. The address To the Reader is particularly sloppily set in the Second Folio, with several missing word spaces. This is actually improved in the Third Folio and some italics are added for emphasis. The third edition also adds seven more plays, most with no plausible connection to Shakespeare at all.

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