Shakespeare folio found in French library

Shakespeare folio found in French library

The accidental discovery in a small library in northern France of an original first folio of Shakespeare’s plays has sent a jolt of excitement around the world of Shakespeare scholars.

The find brings the total of known folios in the world to 233, and is significant as each first folio can contain variations that shed light on the bard’s intentions. Among the 900 pages of the most recent discovery are rare annotations that suggest it was used for performance.

The annotations “might tell us something about Shakespeare’s reception at the time, how they were thought of as text for performance”, said Stanley Wells, honorary president of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Scholars have not yet had a chance to carry out the painstaking comparisons with the texts of other folios to determine what variations the latest discovery may contain.

Remy Cordonnier, the director of the Saint-Omer library’s medieval and early modern collection, happened upon the folio among the belongings of a Jesuit evangelist that were bequeathed from a now-defunct Jesuit college in the town.

“I first tried to keep a level head as I wasn’t sure 100% of its authenticity,” Mr Cordonnier said.

Missing were 12 title pages, which record the printing date and location. So Mr Cordonnier sought the help of Eric Rasmussen, a Nevada-based specialist in Shakespeare first folios, who travelled to the small town near Calais to examine it.

Mr Rasmussen concluded that it was among about 750 Shakespeare first folios printed in 1623, seven years after the playwright died.

The first folios are the first complete printed collections of Shakespeare’s plays. Sixteen Shakespeare plays, including The Tempest and Macbeth, were not printed in the bard’s lifetime – meaning the first folio saved them from oblivion. One first folio in 2006 sold at Christie’s for €5.4m.

More in this Section

May raises questions over Queen’s Speech immigration and justice plansMay raises questions over Queen’s Speech immigration and justice plans

Hillsborough match commander ‘deep in thought’ before giving order, court toldHillsborough match commander ‘deep in thought’ before giving order, court told

Celebrities supporting Extinction Rebellion admit to being hypocritesCelebrities supporting Extinction Rebellion admit to being hypocrites

Three arrested in connection with theft of gold toilet from Blenheim PalaceThree arrested in connection with theft of gold toilet from Blenheim Palace


Lifestyle

Munster offers so many hidden gems with bargains, ideas and must-have products for the interiors enthusiast who is always on the lookout for something new, writes Carol O’Callaghan.Made in Munster: So many treasure troves for the interiors enthusiast

Aileen Lee in conversation with ceramist Hedi O'Neill.Made in Munster: 'My advice? Be free in your style’ - Ceramist Hedi O'Neill

Red lips are hot for autumn but can you make them part of your everyday makeup? Rachel Marie Walsh thinks so.Code red: Making a statement with red lipstick for the everyday look

Welcome to the Autumn/Winter edition of ieStyle.Don't miss the Irish Examiner's free glossy 'ieStyle' magazine

More From The Irish Examiner