A Pounds 1 Book of Shakespeare's Plays Is Set to Fetch Up to Pounds 3.5m at Sotheby's Sale

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), July 11, 2006 | Go to article overview

A Pounds 1 Book of Shakespeare's Plays Is Set to Fetch Up to Pounds 3.5m at Sotheby's Sale


Byline: By ALED BLAKE Western Mail

It has been described as the 'most important book in English literature' and could fetch more than pounds 3.5m when it is auctioned this week. The First Folio edition of Shakespeare's plays dating from 1623 is being offered for sale at Sotheby's in London. And a leading Welsh book dealer says such an important book is well worth the paper it is written on - and the rest.

Published seven years after Shakespeare's death, the volume contains 18 plays which had never previously been printed.

About 750 copies were printed and about a third of these survive, mostly incomplete. The price when new was probably 20 shillings (pounds 1).

The copy of the First Folio is remarkably untouched, in a mid 17th-century binding, and contains extensive markings and annotations that provide an invaluable insight into its early readership. It is estimated it could fetch pounds 2.5m-pounds 3.5m.

Peter Selley, Sotheby's English literature specialist, said, 'William Shakespeare has had an impact on the artistic imagination, on language, literature and all the performing arts, more profound and more widespread than any other writer who has ever lived.

'The First Folio preserves 18 of his plays, including some of the most major, which otherwise would have been lost for all time.

'Relatively complete copies of the Folio in contemporary or near contemporary bindings very rarely come to the market.

'There is only one copy recorded as remaining in private hands. This sale will be a truly exceptional event.'

Without the First Folio there would be no Macbeth, Twelfth Night, Antony and Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, A Winter's Tale, The Tempest, All's Well That Ends Well, As You Like It, The Comedy of Errors, Coriolanus, Cymbeline, Henry VIII, King John, Measure for Measure, The Taming of the Shrew, Timon of Athens, Two Gentleman of Verona, or Henry VI Part I. …

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