AM launches landmark Open Access archive of Shakespeare’s First Folios

For the first time ever, researchers, students, and Shakespeare enthusiasts will be able to compare copies of the First Folio online, thanks to a new Open Access site created and hosted by AM.

The First Folios Compared project brings together institutions from around the world to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the publication of the First Folio, the first ever collected edition of William Shakespeare's plays, published in 1623.

Of the 36 plays in the book, half of them had not been previously printed; as such, without the First Folio, classic plays such as Twelfth Night, Measure for Measure, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, and The Tempest might never have survived.

It is estimated that around 750 First Folios were printed, of which 233 are currently known to survive worldwide. AM’s new portal features 47 of them, from 23 locations. 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 Comparison Page will enable side-by-side comparison of the unique texts for the first time ever.

The project launches with an event at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, featuring speakers sessions led by Professor Emma Smith of Hertford College, Oxford, the project’s academic advisor and a world-renowned First Folio expert, and Gregory Doran, Artistic Director Emeritus at the Royal Shakespeare Company and author of My Shakespeare - A Director's Journey through the First Folio.

First Folios Compared represents a major milestone in Shakespearean scholarship and cultural heritage. By bringing together some of the world’s surviving copies of the First Folio in a single Open-Access platform, the project provides an unprecedented resource for researchers, students, and Shakespeare enthusiasts around the world to explore and compare these unique and treasured publications.

Claudine Nightingale, Publisher, AM

More details of the project can be found at where you can start exploring and comparing today!

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