digitized first folios

A list of currently available digital F1s with descriptions of their various features with some general useful information about the textual history of the First Folio. (note: Info on uncorrected pages comes from Rasmussen & West’s descriptive calatalog of F1s, but heed my caveat.) I wrote an article looking at digital F1s through a bibliographical and cultural materialist lens for the Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare’s First Folio; it’s available on my site for your reading pleasure. I find it easier sometimes to track all this in a spreadsheet, so you can view that, too, if you want.

tl;dr Your first stop for an easy-to-use digitized First Folio should be the Bodleian’s copy: it’s good for general use and good for textual scholars. If you want one-stop-shopping for all four Folios, use Miami’s.

detail from Bodleian's copy of Shakespeare's First Folio

16 First Folios, organized alphabetically by holding institution

(updated February 16, 2017)

Bodleian  | Boston | Brandeis | CambridgeFolger 5 | Folger 7 | Folger 9 | Folger 68 | Harry Ransom Center | Leeds | Meisei | Miami of Ohio | New South WalesPenn | Saint-Omer | Stuttgart

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford (West 31)

quick take: The go-to online F1, with multiple options for viewing images as well as a transcription, and high-resolution jpegs and xml for downloads
details

  • catalog record (Arch. G c.7)
  • digitized cover-to-cover as page spreads or individual pages, with ability to jump to specific acts/scenes in each play
    • also available as text adjacent to (or not) digitized pages, with the ability to navigate by play/act/scene or by signatures
    • also available in Digital.Bodleian
    • also available in the Digerati Universal Viewer, where it is navigable by individual signature marks (eg, sig. oo5r)
    • urls to individual pages in the text/image view; urls to specific places on a page through the Universal viewer (eg, “To be or not to be“)
    • downloadable as hi-res jpegs of individual pages for each play (2122 x 3475 pixels), low-res pdfs of images of individual pages for each play,  pdfs of the formatted digital text for each play, pdfs of the XML text for each play, and XML file for each play
    • available as an IIIF manifest
    • CC BY 3.0 license for images, text, and XML
  • uncorrected pages: D2, V1, m3, qq5v, ss3; qq2v in third state (πA1 missing)
  • copy-specific notes from catalog: The portrait is the second state.; Lacks A1 (Jonson’s “To the reader”); title page is trimmed and mounted; Two MS verses on first endpaper verso: 1) 9 lines of verse by an unknown author, first line reads “An active swain to make a leap was seen” 2) A copy of Ben Jonson’s printed “To the Reader”; MS note on tp appears to read “Honest [Shakes]peare”. Minor annotations on leaf 2n4 (Macbeth). All in an early English hand, presumably added after leaving the Library.
  • digitized 2013; digital texts added 2014;  IIIF manifest added 2016 (per)
  • The story of this copy and the two projects that led it to be acquired and digitized are interesting in themselves: more info is at Sprint for Shakespeare.

Boston Public Library (West 150)

quick take: Public domain, high-resolution images through Internet Archive; includes both the corrected and uncorrected R1 and R6v, which is pretty darn fun.
details

  • catalog record (G.174.1 FOLIO)
  • digitized cover-to-cover by Internet Archive, viewable as single pages, page spreads, or thumbnails and navigable by moving a slider (corresponds to digitization page number) or via thumbnail
    • downloadable as a whole volume as high-resolution .jp2 (2449 x 4054 pixels) and as pdf
    • no copyright or licensing claims made
  • also viewable in Digital Commonwealth as page spreads or thumbnails
    • downloadable as pages by right-clicking on an image (734 x 1216 pixels)
    • no known copyright or restrictions in use
  • uncorrected pages: R1 and R6v (both have the corrected leaves following the uncorrected, which is kind of fun), e3v, k5, m3, ee5, ff2, ff6, zz6v
  • copy-specific notes from catalog: portrait state 3, inscriptions on various leaves (see catalog record for details), appears to be a made-up copy
  • imaged in 2016

Brandeis University (West 153)

quick take: Useful because of the ISE interface, but not great imaging by today’s standards
details

  • catalog record (Shaksp PR2751 .A1 1623)
  • digitized (textblock only, starting with πA1+1r [the title page]) as individual pages available through Internet Shakespeare Editions, navigable by page, play/act/scene/TLN
    • urls to individual pages
    • downloadable as jpegs of pages at 1200 x 1906 pixels (follow “page info” link)
    • copyrighted by Brandeis, permission to use for “educational, non-profit purposes”
  • also available through Perseus
  • uncorrected pages: A1v, D2, S5v, d1, m3, ‘gg4’v, dd2, dd4, dd6v, ee5, kk6v, zz6v (πA1-6, aaa1, aaa6, bbb1, bbb5, bbb6 missing)
  • imaged in 1999 by Perseus (see) presumably as part of the NEH/NSF grant for their Digital Library Initiative Phase 2 (see)

Cambridge University Library (West 6)

quick take: It’s there.
details

  • catalog record (SSS.10.6)
  • digitized cover-to-cover as individual pages (displayed as thumbnails without additional navigation tools)
    • urls to link to individual pages
    • downloadable as jpegs of pages 1195 x 2000 pixels
    • CC BY-NC 3.0 license
  • uncorrected pages: B3v, D2, S5v, V1, f2v, f5, m3, t4v, oo2v, oo5, qq6, qq6v, rr2, rr3, ss3
  • copy-specific notes from catalog: πA1 in facsimile; title page (πA1+1) remargined and repaired with some text in facsimile; portrait is in state 3; profile drawing of a head in profile in Richard II, leaf d3v.
  • imaged in 2016 as part of the 600th anniversary exhibit of the University Library, “Lines of Thought

Folger Shakespeare Library, no. 05  (West 63)

quick take: It’s there, but with openings, not pages; not easily navigable.
details

  • catalog record (STC 22273 Fo.1 no.05)
  • digitized cover-to-cover as page spreads in the Folger’s Digital Image Collection (displayed as thumbnails without navigation tools)
    • urls to link to the whole set or to openings
    • downloadable as jpegs of openings up to 1536 x 1131 pixels max
    • CC BY-SA 4.0 license
  • uncorrected pages: D2, L5, d1, m3, dd2, dd2v, ee5, ff2, ff5v, ss3, zz6v (original leaf E5 missing)
  • copy-specific notes from catalog: πA5+1.2 bound after πA6.; portrait in state 3.; Leaves T3, T4, and b2 supplied from another copy or copies.
  • imaged first in 1999 by Octavo and released as a CD-ROM in 2000; release includes a booklet with a lot of information about F1 in general and this copy in particular (the Folger hosts an OA pdf of the booklet but the file is corrupted: you can access most of the booklet’s material, but not Blayney’s essay, although see Penn). Included in the booklet is an essay by Donald Farren on why this copy was chosen for the project (pp 13–15); tl;dr good condition, few blemishes, only 2 “misbound” leaves and 3 from other copies of F1.
  • the volume was re-imaged by Octavo in 2004 in order to be used for the kiosk in the exhibition hall (the 1999 images used a raking light that resulted in too many shadows to work well); those are the images now seen in Luna and in Octavo’s Rare Book Room

Folger Shakespeare Library, no. 07 (West 65)

quick take: Digitized microfilm in poor black-and-white resolution available only through paywalled EEBO.
details

  • catalog record (STC 22273 Fo.1 no. 07)
  • digitized microfilm pastedown-to-pastedown of page spreads in Early English Books Online (subscription-only) nb: this is only identifiable on EEBO as this copy by searching the Folger’s catalog for “STC 22273” and “Syston Park” (visible on the front-paste down bookplate)
    • urls to EEBO record or to openings
    • downloadable as full book or specified images as pdfs or tiffs
    • copyright claimed by ProQuest (see process for requesting permissions)
  • uncorrected pages: B3v, V1, d1, ee5, ss3, zz6v, aaa3
  • copy-specific notes from catalog: πA1 has all margins cropped and is mounted and ruled in red; πA1+1 (title leaf) is close trimmed and inlaid, completed in ms facsimile, and ruled in red.; portrait in state 2.
  • filmed for UMI December 19, 1957; also used for the 1997 Arden CD-ROM

Folger Shakespeare Library, no. 09 (West 67)

quick take: Like Folger no. 5, displays as openings; not easily navigable.
details

  • catalog record (STC 22273 Fo.1 no. 09)
  • digitized cover-to-cover as page spreads in the Folger’s digital image collection (displayed as thumbnails without navigation tools)
    • urls to link to full set or to openings
    • downloadable as jpegs of openings up to a 1536 x 1143 pixel max
    • CC BY-SA 4.0 license
  • uncorrected pages: L5, S5v, f2v, f5, m3, dd4, ee4v, ee5, ss3, vv1v, xx6
  • copy-specific notes from catalog: πA1 is extended, and πA5+1.2 are bound after πA6. 3b6 is patched, with one word completed in ms facsimile; portrait in state 3; patched (with the lower right corner completed in ms. facsim.) and with the highlight of the pupils inked out.; Leaves B2-5, D2-5, E1,3,4,6, and Z2,5, are supplied from shorter copies, and perhaps d3.4.
  • imaged in 2014 at the request of the rare books curator; the copy had been selected to be loaned to U North Carolina for exhibit and was digitized prior to the loan; the loan ultimately didn’t happen

Folger Shakespeare Library, no.68 (West 126)

quick take: My preferred of the Folger copies, but still annoying to navigate unless you’re adept at Luna; also viewable in a bookreader.
details

  • catalog record (STC 22273 Fo.1 no.68)
  • digitized cover-to-cover as page spreads in the Folger’s digital image collection (displayed as thumbnails without navigation tools)
    • urls to link to the whole set or to openings (and, if you know the trick of the search function, as individual plays, although it’s probably easiest to grab those links from the Shakespeare’s Works pages on the Folger’s website)
    • downloadable as jpegs of page openings up to a 1536 x 1221 pixel max
    • CC BY-SA 4.0 license
  • also available as page spreads and a pdf through the World Digital Library
  • also available in a book reader view with links to individual plays, added as part of the 2016 Wonder of Will celebrations
  • uncorrected pages: D2, H5v, L5, S2, S5v, V1, m3, v3, ‘gg4’v, ee5, ff2, ff5v, zz6v
  • copy-specific notes from catalog: πA1 and 3b6 mounted; πA5+1.2 bound after πA6.; portrait in state 3.
  • imaged in 2007 before being loaned for display in Jamestown for the “World of 1607” Cycle III exhibit

Harry Ransom Center (West 185)

quick take: Public domain with reasonably hi-res images and manageable navigation via ContentDM. My second-favorite after the Bodleian’s.
details

  • catalog record (PFORZ 905 PFZ)
  • digitized cover to cover as page spreads in HRC’s digital image collection, navigable by thumbnails, by play, or by image number
    • persistent urls for individual openings
    • downloadable as jpegs of page openings either as 1000 x 778 pixel or 3000 x 2350 px (note the high-res jpeg includes some embedded image metadata)
    • public domain!!
  • uncorrected pages: D2, L5, V1, V5, k5, m3, ee5, pp5v, qq2v, qq5v, ss3, tt1, vv2
  • copy specific notes from catalog:  πA6 facsimile; belonged to the Newdigate family from 17th century until 1922; not noted in the catalog, but the tp portrait is state 3
  • launched December 22, 2015 (as per) in connection with their exhibit, “Shakespeare in Print and Performance

University of Leeds, Brotherton Collection (West 12)

quick take: Good context provided, but highly restrictive licensing, so skip this.
details

  • catalog record (BC Safe/SHA)
  • digitized (textblock only, starting with πA1r [the blank recto of “To the Reader”]) as individual pages, navigable by play/act/scene/line
  • uncorrected pages: S5v, V1, d1, m3, cc5v, ss3, zz6
  • launched May 12, 2014 (as per)
  • actually includes a reasonable amount of context for F1 in general, this copy, and the digitization process

Meisei University (West 201)

quick take: An interesting annotated copy in a difficult-to-use interface with lo-res images.
details

  • digitized (textblock only, starting with πA1r [the blank recto of “To the Reader”]) as individual pages, navigable by play/act/scene, TLN, signature, or image number (note: the landing screen is blank and you’ll need to input some sort of search to pull up on image; once you have an image, you can use the navigation to go back and forward)
    • no persistent urls for individual images
    • downloadable individual pages as jpegs of 655 x 932 pixels (use the “printable image” button)
    • images and text copyrighted by Meisei, with permission granted for “non-profit-making, educational or scholarly use” (see)
  • searchable marginalia by word, with results offering the option to open a transcription and to enlarge the marginalia
  • uncorrected pages: D2, e1, e3v, q4v, aa6v, dd4, kk6v, xx6v, zz4v
  • created 2002–2006; F1 imaged on film and then digitized. I believe they are in the process of redesigning the site.
  • This is an unusual copy in the amount of marginalia provided by a single early 17th-century reader. Akihiro Yamada’s 1998 study and transcription of the marginalia is available in full in a corrected 2005 edition on the site.
  • note: digitized copies of F2, F3, and F4 and of Jonson’s Folio also available

Miami University of Ohio (West 174)

quick take: The place to go for all four folios; public domain of hi-res images; includes uncorrected d5 which misses two lines in R2.
details

  • digitized cover-to-cover as individual pages, navigable by play/page, or as page openings with a page-turn interface
    • no persistent urls
    • downloadable as jpegs up to 2536 x 4000 pixels max
    • public domain!!
  • uncorrected pages: B3v, C4, L5, S5v, V1, d1, d5, m3, ‘gg4’v, ¶5v, dd6v, ee5, gg1v, qq5v, rr2, ss3, ss4, ss4v, xx6 (πA1 missing)
  • originally done in 2008; redigitized & new interface April 2015 (as per)
  • note: interface also provides access to 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Folios

New South Wales, State Library (West 192)

quick take: Oddly colored digitization that omits all blank pages as well as binding and endleaves; no reason to use this except that it’s in ISE.
details

  • catalog record (SAFE/ RB/ Y1/ 1)
  • digitized (cover plus textblock, starting with πA1v [“To the Reader”]) as individual pages, navigable by page, play/act/scene/TLN
    • urls for individual pages
    • downloadable as individual pages as jpegs of 1275 x 2000 pixels (follow “page info” link)
    • copyrighted by New South Wales with permission for “educational, non-profit purposes”
  • uncorrected pages: no uncorrected leaves listed (πA1, πA1+1 missing)
  • copy-specific notes from catalog: The first two leaves appear to be a late 18th-century facsimile.
  • note: copies of their F2, F3, and F4 are available at Internet Shakespeare Editions; links to catalog records at NSW

University of Pennsylvania, Furness Library (West 180)

quick take: Now outdated imaging and interface, but with great context and teaching tools (see notes).
details

  • catalog record (Folio PR2751 .A1)
  • digitized (textblock only, starting with  πA1r [the blank recto of “To the Reader”]) as individual pages, navigable by play/act/scene and by page numbers (though not signatures)
    • urls for individual pages
    • downloadable as jpegs up to 1045 x 1665 pixels max (use right-click to save image)
    • no obvious statement about rights or licensing, but I believe the SCETI license of CC BY 2.5 covers this (see)
  • uncorrected pages: B3v, D2, e5, k5, m3, ‘gg4’v, dd2v, dd6v, ff1v, ff6, ss3 (πA1+1, bbb6 missing)
  • copy-specific notes from catalog: Imperfect: genuine port. (in state 2) inlaid in title leaf; colophon mutilated with some text supplied in ms; several leaves mended at margins.
  • imaged 1998–2000 as part of the NEH-funded English Renaissance in Context website
  • note: Furness has a digitized copy of Peter Blayney’s booklet, The First Folio of Shakespeare (Folger Shakespeare Library, 1991), which is a great introduction to the printing and history of F1. There are also some detailed student-oriented tutorials on textual issues and book production; they require Flash, alas, but are very useful.

Bibliothèque d’agglomération de Saint-Omer

quick take: An interesting copy but hard to navigate and only downloadable as pdfs.
details

  • catalog record
  • digitized cover-to-cover as page openings, navigable as thumbnails and by jumping to image numbers
    • no persistent urls to images
    • downloadable pdfs of page openings (use “print” button)
    • non-commercial reuse (see)
  • The story of this First Folio is fabulous: it was identified in 2014 by librarian Rémy Cordonnier in the public library at Saint-Omer, having been assumed previously—in part due to missing preliminary leaves—to be an 18th-century edition. (The reason is doesn’t have a West number is that it was identified after West’s census was completed.) It used to belong to the local Jesuit college until the French revolution. For more information, the article in The Independent is an accessible place to begin.

Württembergische Landesbibliothek, Stuttgart (West 197)

quick take: It’s there.
details

  • catalog record
  • digitized cover-to-cover as individual pages or as openings, navigable by play and by thumbnail views
    • urls for individual pages
    • downloadable pages as jpegs of 1500 x 2349 pixels (right-click to save); full book downloadable as a pdf
    • CC BY-SA 3.0 license (see)
  • also viewable through DFG
  • uncorrected pages: D2, L5, S5v, V1, m3, q6v, ss3, vv2v, vv3, vv4v

Useful related information:

How many copies of the First Folio still exist today? The easy number to give is 235: 232 counted by West in his census plus the Saint-Omer, an unlisted copy from the Shuckburgh Collection (to be auctioned by Christie’s on May 25, 2016), and a newly identified copy from the collection at Mount Stuart, in Bute, Scotland (which they call the Reed-Bute copy; more bibliographic details on it are in Emma Smith’s description in the TLS).

The answer, however, is more complicated: How many original leaves need to be present? Do made-up copies count if more than half the leaves come from different copies? What about copies that are believed to still exist but aren’t connected to a known copy? Depending on your audience, you’re probably safe saying “235” as long as you give some qualification.

Which plays appeared only in the First Folio? All’s Well That Ends Well, Antony and Cleopatra, As You Like It, Comedy of Errors, Coriolanus, Cymbeline, 1 Henry VI, Henry VIII, Julius Caesar, King John, Macbeth, Measure for Measure, Taming of the Shrew, Tempest, Timon of Athens, Twelfth Night, Two Gentlemen of Verona, and Winter’s Tale.

The following plays appeared in both quarto editions prior to F1 and in F1: Hamlet, 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV, Henry V, 2 Henry VI (as 1 Contention), 3 Henry VI (as Richard Duke of York), King Lear, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Merchant of Venice, Merry Wives of Windsor, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, Richard II, Richard III, Romeo and Juliet, Titus Andronicus, and Troilus and Cressida.

Three plays that we now attribute to Shakespeare did not appear in the First Folio: Edward III (first published in quarto in 1596), Pericles (1609), and Two Noble Kinsmen (1634).

What’s the standard collation formula for an ideal copy of F1? 2°: πA⁶(πA1+1, πA5+1.2), A-2B6, 2C2, a-g6, χ2g8, h-v6, x4, ‘gg3.4′ (±’gg3’), ¶-2¶6, 3¶1, 2a-2f6, 2g2, Gg6, 2h6, 2k-3b6.

What are the signatures for the preliminaries? Ah, this is tricky. Ben Jonson’s poem (“To the Reader”) is on the verso side of the first leaf: πA1v. The title page (with Shakespeare’s portrait) is on the recto of a single leaf inserted between the first and second leaves: πA1+1r. However, these are inconsistently cataloged in this way! The superscript π is to differentiate the preliminary leaves (signed A) from the first gathering of The Tempest (also signed A), but lots of the projects I’ve listed here do not use the π. And many of them also want to start counting leaves with the tp, not the first leaf. (See, eg, the image of the πA1πA1+1r opening for Folger 5 and the page info for the titlepage as A1r in the Brandeis copy.) So, you should always look at what the page is, rather than relying on what the metadata tells you it is! For more information on the complex issues at stake in the collational formula, and in describing specific copies, see Anthony James West, “A Model for Describing Shakespeare First Folios, With Descriptions of Selected Copies,” The Library 6 (March 1999): 1-49, http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/library/s6-21.1.1. For a lucid explanation and helpful diagram of the preliminaries, see Erin Blake and Kathleen Lynch, “Looke on his Picture, in his Booke: The Droeshout Portrait on the Title Page” in Foliomania! Stories Behind Shakespeare’s Most Important Book, ed. Owen Williams (Folger Shakespeare Library, 2011), pp 21-31.

There are three states of the portrait?? If you need to learn about the three states of the titlepage portrait and how to tell them apart, I cover that for you in my post on the Droeshout engraving for The Collation.

Ack, tell me about the plays’ textual histories! And I need to see digitized quartos and later folios! There are brief textual histories of all the plays and links to digitized copies held by the Folger Shakespeare Library of the early printed texts on their Shakespeare’s Works page (compiled originally by me, although no longer my responsibility). The British Library has digitized all of their pre-1642 Shakespeare quartos. Copies of the Second (1632), Third (1664), and Fourth (1685) have been digitized by Meisei, Miami, and New South Wales.

What are West numbers and who are “Rasmussen and West”? West numbers are the number that Anthony James West assigns to copies of the First Folio in his census (Oxford, 2003), which is a hugely useful resource for learning more about copies of the book. R & W refers to The Shakespeare First Folios: A Descriptive Catalogue, eds Eric Rasmussen and Anthony James West (Palgrave, 2011). This book is, as reviews have pointed out, a bit of a mess. I used it as the source for the uncorrected pages, and I corrected their mistakes when I saw them. (Warning! We’re going to get into the weeds here!) For instance, they seem to identify (in Brandeis, Folger 68, Miami, and Penn) what, according to the collation that West himself uses and that I provide here, is ‘gg4’ instead as “x6,” which is just silly. (The single quotes around the signature ‘gg4’ indicate, per Bowers, that the signature is anomalous. The double quotes of “x6” are my scornful scare quotes.) Before Blayney introduced ‘gg3.4’, the accepted notation for those pages, per Hinman, was χ1,2, using the Greek letter chi to denote the unsigned leaves opening Troilus. But χ is not x and even though these leaves follow the x gathering, they have never been incorporated into that gathering (Greg, before Hinman, noted them as [1,2], carefully placed after the series ending with x4), so to refer to the second leaf follow the 4 leaves of x as “x6” is just nonsensical. Nor, honestly, do I understand why they wouldn’t use the now-standard Blayney collation, especially since that’s what West himself advocates for. Also, while I’m at it, they also use “x6” (in Folger 9, Meisei, and Miami) to denote the 6th leaf of the xx gathering, ignoring what is obviously a missigned “x” gathering and so should more properly be indicated with xx. Finally, there is no such thing as leaf y5 (as they identify in Miami), only a failure to understand italic pilcrows. I have corrected these mistakes to read ‘gg4’, xx6, and  ¶5, following Blayney. I have not actually verified that the listed uncorrected pages are, in fact, uncorrected, so double-check these for yourself. I note, as well, that the appendix listing press variants in R&W should be taken with a grain of salt. Obviously. FFS. Sorry.

zomg after this I am so tired of the First Folio. Me, too, sweetie. Me, too.

 

Updates:

  • March 11, 2016: added digitized copies from Cambridge and the Harry Ransom Center and the new bookreader view for Folger 68.
  • April 7, 2016: changed numbers of extant F1s to include Shuckburgh and Mount Stuart.
  • April 27, 2016: added new IIIF manifest and viewer to Bodleian description
  • June 16, 2016: added digitized copy from Boston Public Library and a spreadsheet of characteristics
  • January 3, 2017: cosmetic changes only but the accordians should make this page easier to browse
  • February 16, 2017: added link to my article on “Digital First Folios”

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