Editing Shakespeare: From the First Folio to the Twenty-first Century


2023 marked the 400th anniversary of the publication of the plays of Mr William Shakespeare in a single volume. The book we now conventionally refer to as the First Folio (F1) was published seven years after Shakespeare's death and its publication initiated a long history of editing Shakespeare for general readers, scholars, and theatre practitioners. Much was published last year on the myriad of facts related to the preparation, publication, reception, and after-life of F1.

This exhibition, instead, aims to go beyond the 400th anniversary mark. It aims at briefly tracing the editorial trajectory of publishing Shakespeare's works, from 1623 to 2023 and into the future. The history of editing and publishing Shakespeare is not only long, but also rich and convoluted at times. Much had to be left out of this exhibition to focus on editions that have had a recognisable impact on our understanding of Shakespeare's dramatic work. Succinct as it is, we hope this exhibition serves as a starting point for those interested in exploring further the various aspects related to editing Shakespeare in the past, present, and future.


This project would not have been possible without the support of the University Library management and the Special Collections' amazing staff. Our heartfelt thanks to the editors who graciously accepted to share their ideas and comments on their work so we could bring to this exhibition the perspectives and voices of those who are some of the most renowned Shakespearean scholars of our times:

  • Professor Sir Stanley Wells, Honorary President of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust¬†
  • Professor Sir Jonathan Bate, Professor of English Literature in the University of Oxford
  • Professor Stephen Greenblatt, John Cogan University Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University

We are also thankful for the corrections and feedback comments provided by Prof Stephen Greenblatt, Prof Richard Smith (University of Warwick), and Prof David Crystal, OBE (Honorary Professor of Linguistics at the University of Bangor).

The images in this exhibition come mostly from items in the University of Leicester Archives and Special Collections; unless otherwise stated.


Dr Christina Wolf, SFHEA. Centre for International Training and Education. University of Leicester, UK.