London | A rare compilation of Shakespeare’s complete works was shown off before sale by Christie’s auction house today in the week that Britain celebrates the 400th anniversary of the legendary playwright’s death.
The First Folio was published in 1623, just seven years after Shakespeare’s death, preserving Macbeth and 17 other works that were never published in the Bard’s lifetime and would otherwise have been lost.
Around 750 First Folios were published and only around a third of them have been preserved. Academics earlier this month hailed the discovery of one edition on the Scottish island of Bute. Christie’s has put the estimated price tag of its compilation at at least 800,000 (1.0 million euros, $1.2 million).
The auction house will also be selling three other editions of the full works published in 1632, 1664 and 1685. It’s very unusual for the collected works of an author to be published so soon after their death, said Margaret Ford, the international head of books and manuscripts department at Christie’s. It is deeply moving to handle the first printed record of his collected plays and to be reminded of their tremendous impact.
The work will go on display in New York and London ahead of the sale in the British capital on May 25. The anthology contains 36 works including 18 that were published for the first time in the book and would probably have disappeared including Macbeth, The Tempest, The Taming of the Shrew, All’s Well that Ends Well and A Winter’s Tale.
The University of Oxford this month announced that a new First Folio had been found at the Mount Stuart stately home on the island of Bute, where it will be on display to the public until October.
In terms of literary discoveries, they do not come much bigger than a new First Folio, and we are really excited that this has happened on Bute, said Alice Martin, head of collections at Mount Stuart, at the time.
The anniversary of Shakespeare’s death on Saturday is being marked with a series of performances and exhibitions, as well as a candlelit vigil by his tomb in his hometown of Stratford-upon Avon.
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