Early texts of Shakespeare's works

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The earliest texts of William Shakespeare's works were published during the 16th and 17th centuries in quarto or folio format. Folios are large, tall volumes; quartos are smaller, roughly half the size (see Book size).



18 of the 36 plays in the First Folio were printed in separate and individual editions prior to 1623. Pericles (1609) and The Two Noble Kinsmen (1634) also appeared separately before their inclusions in folio collections (the Shakespeare Third Folio and the second Beaumont and Fletcher folio, respectively). All of these were quarto editions, with one exception: The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of York, the first edition of Henry VI, part 3, was printed in octavo form in 1594. In chronological order, these publications were—

Six of these were classified "bad quartos" by Alfred W. Pollard and other scholars associated with the New Bibliography. Popular plays like 1 Henry IV and Pericles were reprinted in their quarto editions even after the First Folio appeared, sometimes more than once.

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