The Shakespeare Thefts: In Search of the First Folios
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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.
appeared at Newcastle Crown Court wearing green combat army fatigues (held up by a Gucci belt) and a pair of black Dior sunglasses, apparently emulating Che Guevara. His invariable response of 舠Aye, that I am舡 to questions soon angered Judge Richard Lowden, who told him, 舠Don舗t be so dramatic please, just speak normally.舡9 After the hearing, Scott sprayed reporters with a bottle of champagne. Front-page photos of Scott became a staple of the British tabloid press. Indeed, Scott began texting
welcomed 舠this wonderfully important book home to the university and city.舡29 CHAPTER FOUR THE WAITING IS THE HARDEST PART I am to wait, though waiting so be hell. 舒Shakespeare舗s Sonnet 58 My team has been waiting to see a privately owned copy of the First Folio for two decades. In 1991, Anthony James West learned that a family in Tokyo, Japan, owned a First Folio. Anthony contacted the distinguished Japanese rare book dealer Mitsuo Nitta, who had brokered the sale of many First Folios in
This would have driven his new wife舗s father mad. Sir Thomas had personally recorded in an early catalog that his own collection was inspired by 舠reading various accounts of the destruction of valuable manuscripts.舡 And now a scrapbooker had wormed his way into the family! To add insult to injury, it was this same destroyer (and thief) of books who, according to the terms of a trust that Sir Thomas could not break, was to inherit (through Henrietta) his estate, Middle Hill. Craftily, Sir Thomas
goatskin, and 100 percent of the original leaves are present. It is worn and scuffed although in good condition overall. After examining the First Folio, we now know that someone in the family was a number cruncher: Someone jotted a series of sums in the outer margin of A Midsummer Night舗s Dream in pen: 11|9|20 2|11|13 0|7|7 In The Taming of the Shrew, too, someone has written a math problem in the outer margin: 23 ȕ 7 = 161; and 161/40 | 44舒possibly a division problem. More math can be found
found so many customers, that they almost exceed all number, one study being scarce able to hold them, and two years time too little to peruse them all.舡2 Play quartos usually were sold without bindings, although readers who had collected a number of dramatic quartos might have them bound as a single volume. About half of Shakespeare舗s plays had appeared in quarto, but eighteen appear for the first time in the First Folio: The Tempest, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Measure for Measure, The Comedy