FROM THE WORLD FAMOUS ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY, THE FIRST AUTHORITATIVE, MODERNIZED, AND CORRECTED EDITION OF SHAKESPEARE’S FIRST FOLIO IN THREE CENTURIES.
Skillfully assembled by Shakespeare’s fellow actors in 1623, the First Folio was the original Complete Works. It is arguably the most important literary work in the English language. But starting with Nicholas Rowe in 1709 and continuing to the present day, Shakespeare editors have mixed Folio and Quarto texts, gradually corrupting the original Complete Works with errors and conflated textual variations.
Now Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen, two of today’s most accomplished Shakespearean scholars, have edited the First Folio as a complete book, resulting in a definitive Complete Works for the twenty-first century.
Combining innovative scholarship with brilliant commentary and textual analysis that emphasizes performance history and values, this landmark edition will be indispensable to students, theater professionals, and general readers alike.
For more information on this Modern Library edition, visit www.therscshakespeare.com
About William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 1564, and his birth is traditionally celebrated on April 23. The facts of his life, known from surviving documents, are sparse. He was one of eight children born to John Shakespeare, a merchant of some standing in his community. William probably went to the King’s New School in Stratford, but he had no university education. In November 1582, at the age of eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior, who was pregnant with their first child, Susanna. She was born on May 26, 1583. Twins, a boy, Hamnet ( who would die at age eleven), and a girl, Judith, were born in 1585. By 1592 Shakespeare had gone to London working as an actor and already known as a playwright. A rival dramatist, Robert Greene, referred to him as “an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers.” Shakespeare became a principal shareholder and playwright of the successful acting troupe, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men (later under James I, called the King’ s Men). In 1599 the Lord Chamberlain’s Men built and occupied the Globe Theater in Southwark near the Thames River. Here many of Shakespeare’s plays were performed by the most famous actors of his time, including Richard Burbage, Will Kempe, and Robert Armin. In addition to his 37 plays, Shakespeare had a hand in others, including Sir Thomas More and The Two Noble Kinsmen, and he wrote poems, including Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. His 154 sonnets were published, probably without his authorization, in 1609. In 1611 or 1612 he gave up his lodgings in London and devoted more and more time to retirement in Stratford, though he continued writing such plays as The Tempest and Henry VII until about 1613. He died on April 23 1616, and was buried in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford. No collected edition of his plays was published during his life-time, but in 1623 two members of his acting company, John Heminges and Henry Condell, put together the great collection now called the First Folio.
About Jonathan Bate
Jonathan Bate is a professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance literature at the University of Warwick. Widely known as a critic, award-winning biographer, and broadcaster, Bate is the author of several books on Shakespeare and principal editor of the Modern Library’s and Royal Shakespeare Company’s highly acclaimed William Shakespeare: Complete Works.
"The endurance of Shakespeare depends not only on the felt experience of good, vivid theater, but also on dynamic scholarship that reveals his living text."
–Michael Boyd, RSC artistic director
"Timely, original, and beautifully conceived, this is a remarkable edition, one that makes Shakespeare's extraordinary accomplishment more vivid than ever."
–James Shapiro, professor, Columbia University and bestselling author of A Year in the Life of Shakespeare: 1599
"The big book is a new one-volume edition of the complete works, commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and published by the Modern Library. Two eminent Shakespeareans, Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen, have applied modern editing techniques and recent scholarship to correct and update the First Folio, the first collection of the plays, published in 1623…. Mr. Bate writes… a superb introduction that deals with Shakespeare and his world as well as textual questions."
–The New York Times
“The excellent general introduction by Jonathan Bate and the essays and notes on each play are… a feast of literary and historical information.”
—The Wall Street Journal
“I look forward to using it over many years… enjoying Jonathan Bate’s perceptive comments, trusting Eric Rasmussen’s textual scholarship.”
—Peter Holland, President of the Shakespeare Association of America, editor of Shakespeare Survey
“Bate’s edition is incomparably superior to all the rest. His knowledge of textual problems and previous commentary seems to be prodigious in its detail and thoroughness…. And his comments on individual plays are unfailingly perceptive. He’s about equally fine as scholar and critic; few excel in both roles, with their very different requirements. Bate is like an all-star shortstop who can also serve as an outstanding relief pitcher…. No other edition has ever impressed me so much.”
--Joseph Sobran, author of William Shakespeare, Alias Shakespeare: Solving the Greatest Literary Mystery of All Time
Jonathan Bate is a passionate advocate of Shakespeare and his introductions to individual plays are full of striking and convincing observations…. The scholarly apparatus is discreet, elegant and pertinent. For each play, we get a set of ‘key facts’: brief accounts of plots, dates and sources, and useful statistics…. Footnotes are found snugly and legibly at the bottom of each page….There is a universe to be found in these annotations: the Renaissance world of power and fate, sex and death, language and philosophy. Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen have given us an edition full of endless fascination.”
—London Times Education Supplement
"This is a glorious edition of one of the world's most important books. It's the essential reference book for anyone who's ever been in love, felt jealousy, fear, hatred, or desire. All human life is here-and every home should have one."
–Dame Judi Dench, RSC honorary associate artist
“Anyone who wants a good single volume edition of the plays…won’t do better than this.” —The International Herald Tribune
“A magnificent new volume.” —A. N. Wilson, Daily Telegraph (UK)
“A triumphant addition to our times.” —Fiona Shaw, The Times (London)
"Thanks to Bate and Rasmussen, we now have a rendering of The Complete Works that, in a rare publishing achievement, would also give complete satisfaction to the author himself."
–Robert McCrum, The Observer
"A new and thoroughly radical edition…. The editorial decisions are argued in an impeccably informative introduction by Jonathan Bate that gives a comprehensive theatrical, social, political and biographical context to the plays. There are pithy essays, also by Bate, to introduce each play as well as exemplary notes at the foot of each page... incomparably useful ... a definitive edition."
–Richard Eyre, Sunday Telegraph
“A splendid edition. The general introduction is among the best 50-page guides to Shakespeare you could hope to find, while the short essays prefixed to each play are like the best kind of programme notes - informative, thought-provoking and humane.... The RSC's edition tells you all you need to know about the life, but also, vitally, allows you to lose yourself in the wonder of the works."
–Colin Burrow, Evening Standard
“Bate’s general introduction to Shakespeare’s life, stage and reputation is superb, and the short introductions to individual works, in particular, are among the best of their kind available.”
—Michael Dobson, The London Review of Books
“Excellent, succinct notes and introductions to each play.”
—John Carey, The Sunday Times (London)
“Professor Jonathan Bate has written thought provoking essays for each play, discussing the source material and its influence on the play as well as pointing out the familiarities [for] contemporary audiences… The glossary includes much that has been ignored in the past …. This volume is an invaluable resource to anyone interested in or simply in love with Shakespeare.” —Speech and Drama
“Bate provides excellent introductory essays to each play and his terrific introduction, simply and effectively summarizing everything you need to know about Shakespeare, man and work, is alone worth buying the edition for.” —The Daily Express (UK)
“Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen have bravely gone where no Bard editors have gone before, basing the entire edition on the First Folio, the rehearsal room version authorized by actors John Hemmings and Henry Condell after Shakespeare’s death. For the first time, the Royal Shakespeare Company has been closely involved in the developing of a collected works, including photography of RSC productions and insights into staging decisions… this is Shakespeare as you like it.” —What’s On Stage