First Folio Of Shakespeare Plays Found In Scotland Confirmed As Genuine

A previously unknown copy of William Shakespeare's First Folio had been in the book collection at a Scottish castle for years before it was recently discovered and authenticated as genuine. Photo courtesy of Mount Stuart House, Isle of Bute, Scotland

ISLE OF BUTE , Scotland, April 7 (UPI) — A William Shakespeare expert and professor in Britain has confirmed the authenticity of a First Folio of the bard’s plays published in 1623 and recently found in a Scottish library.

Only 234 First Folios, elaborate bound collections of Shakespeare’s 36 plays and published in 1623, are known to exist.

The discovery of one copy was made in the library of the Mount Stuart House, a Victorian-era castle on western Scotland’s Isle of Bute. Book collectors and Shakespeare enthusiasts were unaware that the folio, published seven years after Shakespeare’s death, was ever part of the castle’s book collection until the discovery.

Emma Smith, Oxford college professor of Shakespeare studies, authenticated the three-volume folio.

It was owned, at one point, by Isaac Reed, who was a Shakespeare scholar and editor until his 1807 death. Reed acquired the folio in 1786, and after his death it was sold to a person identified as “J.W.” The books discovered in Scotland were not mentioned in a 1906 census of surviving First Folios.

The books are scheduled to be on display beginning Wednesday at the mansion and will be a part of Britain’s celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s 1616 birth.

Another First Folio, owned by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., is on display at the National Music Museum at the University of South Dakota campus in Vermilion, S.D. The Folger Library plans to put several of its collections of First Folios on tour across America during the anniversary year.


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