I thought a story with a headline like “How Shakespeare’s Works Were Nearly Lost To Us” was going to be about David Garrick, honestly. But I was wrong. We all know that the First Folio was published by Heminges and Condell seven years after Shakespeare died. But how often do we get to hear the details of how it all went down?
I’m not going to recap the story here, because I think you should go read it. Bonus points to the author who lists the official number of “known” folios as 235 because apparently he’s been keeping up with the news :).
The FF is about as close to a Shakespeare Bible as we have. It is not just the text, it is “The Text”. I have a copy on my bookshelf, and recently my daughter asked if I ever “use” it. No, I don’t pick it up and flip through it like Asimov or Shapiro. I treat it like a work of art. Opening it for me is like a visit to the museum. When a question comes up about what Shakespeare said or Shakespeare meant, it is the first place I go. I like seeing the old typeface and non standard spelling that makes me sit and think for a minute before I understand what I’m looking at. I like that connection to history.
I’ve also been in the presence of Folio #1, The Most Beautiful Book In The World, estimated to be worth over $10 million.
“You look so happy!” she said. “Look how happy you look! It must be amazing to be that passionate about something that it can make you that happy.”
Yes. Yes it is.