First Folios Compared

Open Access

AM’s Open Access collection, First Folios Compared, represents a major milestone in Shakespearean scholarship and cultural heritage and is an unprecedented resource for researchers, students, and Shakespeare enthusiasts around the world to explore and compare these unique and treasured publications.

This groundbreaking collection features 54 digitised First Folios from 30 institutions. Most contributing copies have not been publicly available before, and several have been digitised specifically for this project.

Hosted on the AM Quartex platform, the site presents a range of powerful new research opportunities for users. The gathering and unifying of a collected set of metadata tags unlocks unprecedented searchability functions, while a new split screen viewer enables side-by-side digital comparison of the unique texts for the first time.

Folio highlights
  • The First Folio held by the University and City Library of Cologne which is accepted to be one of the most pristine examples of the text in existence
  • The example held by Durham University which had been located within the city for more than three centuries before being stolen in 1998. The folio resurfaced when an attempt was made to sell it to the Folger Shakespeare Library before being returned to Durham in 2010
  • The Saint-Omer folio which was rediscovered in 2014 and confirmed to be a First Folio after laying undisturbed in the library at St-Omer for some 200 years

Key data

Source archives

  • Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections
  • Bodleian Libraries
  • Boston Public Library
  • Brandeis University
  • British Library
  • Buffalo & Erie County Public Libraries
  • Craven Museum & Gallery
  • Dulwich College
  • Durham University
  • Folger Shakespeare Library
  • Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections
  • John Rylands Research Institute and Library
  • King’s College Cambridge
  • The Library of Birmingham
  • National Library of Scotland
  • Royal Shakespeare Company
  • The Saint-Omer Library
  • State Library of New South Wales
  • The University and City Library Cologne
  • University of Leeds Libraries
  • Wurttemberg State Library
  • Professor Emma Smith, Hertford College, University of Oxford
  • Céline Magada, Université de Lausanne
  • Literature
  • Theatre
  • Comparison Page encouraging side-by-side comparison of two different versions of the text within the site
  • IIIF functionality to compare copies within the resource alongside other digitised versions hosted elsewhere online
  • Contextual information covering the story of each institution's copy featured within the site

Supporting material


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