First Folio (F1), 1623


This is the Boston public library copy.  Below are the Folger and BL sites.

Second Folio (F2), 1632


Some still mistakenly believe that this editor merely updated F1 without providing any true editorial stewardship. However, A. W. Pollard (1909) asserted that this was untrue, albeit without providing any examples. The American scholar he scorned, Charles Alphonso Smith (1902), actually documents many instances that show F2 truly rethinking and revising F1. Charles I owned a copy and wrote in it.  Boston Public Library. 

Third Folio (F3), 1663-64


There are two versions of the Third Folio (1663, 1664) that differ in one crucial respect. One contains seven more plays than the other. The first, sometimes known as F3a, was once thought to be merely a reprint of F2. Yet recent scholarship has detected evidence of substantial editing. The one in the picture link above is sometimes known as F3b (1664): it added seven plays now known to be apocryphal.  Here is a link to F3a (1663), the first printing.  Boston Public Library.

Fourth Folio (F4), 1685


The last no-name editor Folio, though quartos remained anonymously edited.  Rowe, Pope, Hanmer, Warburton, and even Dr. Johnson largely based their editions on F4. Boston Public Library. 

Black and Shaaber, Shakespeare's Seventeenth-century Editors, 1632-1685 (1937)

"Fifth Folio" (F5), 1700


  • Great textual scholarship, beginning with Fredson Bowers and Giles Dawson (1951) and continuing with Eric Rasmussen (1998, 2017), determined that several copies of the Fourth Folio suffered from a remarkable deficiency.  It was printed in three sections, but in several volumes its middle part made up of history plays and the tragedies to Romeo and Juliet (sigs. 2B-3E8v) did not originally contain the requisite seventeen sheets to make sixty-eight pages. As a result, the printers and publishers needed to reprint the missing material and add it to the deficient Folios. Although this act of expediency did not constitute a truly new edition, contemporary Shakespeareans nevertheless now refer to the additions as an approximation of a "Fifth Folio," perhaps for convenience's sake.  Since this repair work might have been perpetrated in a hurry, probably at the turn of the eighteenth century, those responsible did not encase the usual two columns of text in boxed-rule lines, as was the usual practice. Therefore, it is fairly easy to distinguish between F4 and F5 by identifying this anomaly. The watermarks between the two differ as well.  There appear to be six extant copies of F4 with F5 sheets: four at the Folger, and two at the New York Public Library.  W. W. Greg once predicted that many more would be found, but that has not as of yet come to pass, in spite of considerable effort by Dr. Rasmussen and his colleagues.
  • Dawson, "Some Bibliographical Irregularities in the Shakespeare Fourth Folio" (1951-52)
  • Bowers, "Robert Roberts: A Printer of Shakespeare's Fourth Folio" (1951)
  • Rasmussen, "Anonymity and the Erasure of Shakespeare's First Eighteenth-Century Editor," in Reading Readings, ed. Gondris (1998)
  • Hansen and Rasmussen, "Shakespeare without Rules," in Canonising Shakespeare, eds. Depledge and Kirwan (2017)

FSL, BL, ISE Facsimiles

Folger Shakespeare Library Folios and Quartos


 Here is the Folger's online copy of a First Folio with page images, entire.  They have a quarto archive and more.

British Library Folios and Quartos


Internet Shakespeare Editions, University of Victoria


This remains the best site for examining Shakespeare facsimiles.

Become a friend of the ISE

The Passionate Pilgrim (Q1 1599)

Passionate Pilgrim Q1

The Edward Dowden facsimile

Love's Labour's Lost (Q1 1598)

Love's Labour's Lost Q1

The British Library quarto, courtesy of ISE

The Taming of a Shrew (Q1 1594)

1594 title page of A Shrew

This anonymous play has sometimes been attributed to Shakespeare or considered to be an earlier or even competing version of the F1 text.  It is strange that no quarto of the comedy we know as Shakespeare's survives except the 1631 version, published just before F2. 


Venus and Adonis (Q1593)


The sole surviving copy

Titus Andronicus (Q1 1594)


The only known copy

2 Henry VI (Q1 1594)


The First Part of the Contention betwixt the famous Houses of Yorke and Lancaster became Henry VI, Part Two, in Shakespeare scholarship, since the first part of the tetralogy showed up in F1

The Rape of Lucrece (Q1594)



Richard III (Q1 1597)


Richard III  

3 Henry VI (1600)


The true Tragedie of Richard Duke of Yorke became Henry VI, Part Three.  

Romeo and Juliet (Q1 1597)


"cut him out in little stars"

Richard II (Q1 1597)


Historically famous, since the Earl of Essex was said to have the deposition scene performed in 1599 during his rebellion.

1 Henry IV (Q1 1598)


Falstaff already well known

2 Henry IV (Q1600)


Even more love for Falstaff

Henry V (Q1 1600)



A Midsummer Night's Dream (Q1 1600)


The first play quarto with Shakespeare's name on it

The Merchant of Venice (Q1 1600)



Much Ado About Nothing (Q1600)


The play

The Merry Wives of Windsor (Q1 1602)



Hamlet (Q1 1603, Q2 1604)


Probably the two most studied quartos in Shakespeare studies, the first often misnamed "the bad quarto" by scholars who didn't understand it might have been an acting version of the play.

Q1 1603    Q2 1604

King Lear (Q1 1608)


Much disputed

Troilus and Cressida (Q1 1609)


Two early versions

Pericles (Q1 1609)


Earliest printed version of the play known, not included in First Folio. 

The Sonnets (Q1609)


This somewhat mysteriously published quarto and its odd prolegomena have led to much unwarranted and unseemly speculation about Shakespeare and his life. 

Othello (Q1 1622)


Though the play was known and performed almost two decades earlier, it did not appear in quarto until the year before F1.  

The Taming of the Shrew (Q1 1631)


The odd doppelganger of Shakespeare's play is The Taming of a Shrew (1594), of unknown authorship but similar in many particulars. This quarto seems late, but Charles I liked Shakespeare. 

The Two Noble Kinsmen (Q1634)


John Fletcher

Poems by Will. Shakespeare, Gent. (1640)


Frequently dismissed as a mashup of Shakespeare's sonnets and poems, since the publisher and editor, John Benson, changed pronouns and the ordering of several sonnets or combined them. Yet it is important in reception studies of Shakespeare's nondramatic poetry. 

Pavier Quartos


A False Folio?

This is a collection of ten quarto play texts that William Jaggard printed for Thomas Pavier in 1619, though some of the title-pages are falsely dated. There are two known volumes in contemporary binding, one at the Folger and the other at Texas Christian University. Other copies of the Pavier editions exist singly. W. W. Greg and others theorized that the collection might have been an early attempt at a Shakespeare collection. Some spurious works (Yorkshire Tragedy, Sir John Oldcastle) are included.

Folger Pavier page

TCU Pavier page