The Shakespeare Thefts: In Search of the First Folios

The Shakespeare Thefts: In Search of the First Folios


By (author) Eric Rasmussen

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  • Publisher: Palgrave MacMillan
  • Format: Paperback | 240 pages
  • Dimensions: 137mm x 208mm x 20mm | 204g
  • Publication date: 30 October 2012
  • Publication City/Country: Basingstoke
  • ISBN 10: 0230341675
  • ISBN 13: 9780230341678
  • Edition statement: Reprint
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 153,817

Product description

Published in 1623, the 750 copies of the first edition of William Shakespeare's collected works, known as the "First Folio," has been sought after relentlessly by kings, earls, and bibliophiles. In his effort to track down the extant 232 copies renowned Shakespeare scholar Eric Rasmussen and his team of First Folio hunters embarked on an incredible adventure around the world. This fast-paced narrative takes us from the court rooms of England to high-security vaults in the rare book rooms of Japan, encountering thieves, reclusive librarians, and eccentric billionaires along the way, all lusting for one of the world's most valuable books. This fascinating account explores how manuscript hunters identify a book's past through distinguishing marks: a bullet hole, desecrated pages, and splashes of red that resemble blood; and how a book's location and condition can reveal its story. Part literary detective story, part Shakespearean lore, "The Shakespeare Thefts" is a rare glimpse between the covers of one of the most coveted books in the world.

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Author information

ERIC RASMUSSEN is a preeminent Shakespearean scholar and collaborator on more than 60 books about Shakespeare and Renaissance drama. He is co-editor of The Shakespeare First Folios: A Descriptive Catalogue as well as the Norton Anthology of English Renaissance Drama and the Royal Shakespeare Company's Complete Works of William Shakespeare. He is also the General Textual Editor of the Internet Shakespeare Editions project. He lives in Reno, Nevada, USA.

Review quote

This is a travelogue, a thrilling detective story, an account of the world's most famous book -- and a compellingly good read.--Laurie Maguire, author of Where There s a Will, There s a Way"

Table of contents

Preface A Literary Detective Story One The Most Hated Man in England: The Gondomar Copy Two First Folio Hunters Three A Cuban Fraud: The Durham University Copy Four The Waiting Is the Hardest Part Five Unrecovered: The Manchester University Copy Six The Pope's Sticky Fingers Seven A Close Personal Relationship: The Pembroke Copies Eight Nationalism, Bullets, and a Recovered Treasure Nine The Bibliomaniac: The Sir Thomas Phillipps Copy Ten Looking into Shakespeare's Eyes Eleven Fell in the Weeping Brook: The Fiske Harris Copy Twelve Got to Get Ourselves Back to the Garden Thirteen The King's Companion: Royalist Copies, Puritan Copies Fourteen Obsessed Fifteen A Literary Thief, a Bootlegger, a Shoe Salesman, and Hitler: The Williams College Copy Sixteen Why Is The Whore of Babylon Well Thumbed? Seventeen Alienated: The Hereford Cathedral Copy Eighteen Creative Control Nineteen 'Purloined & Embezzled': The William Beeston Copy Twenty The World's Worst Stolen Treasure Appendix The Making of the Shakespeare First Folio Acknowledgments Notes