September 9, 2016

Shakespeare's First Folio

As part of the events in 2016 surrounding the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, Dialogue host Marcia Franklin talks with Professor Eric Rasmussen of the University of Nevada, Reno. Rasmussen, the chair of the English department at UNR, is a pre-eminent Shakespeare scholar and an expert on the First Folio, which was published in 1623 and includes almost all of the Bard of Avon’s plays.

Rasmussen, also the author of a 1000-page catalog called The Shakespeare First Folio, worked with a team to locate 232 surviving copies of the First Folio, 72 more than were originally thought to exist. An estimated 800 were originally printed. There are now 235 known copies. The group went on to painstakingly document the condition of every page of as many copies as it could examine.

Rasmussen is also the author of The Shakespeare Thefts: In Search of the First Folios, in which he includes some of the more colorful stories surrounding the various copies of the 900-plus page book, both ones that have been found and those that are still missing.

Franklin talks with the professor about his interest in the First Folio, how he authenticates the new copies he finds, some of the unique aspects of the books, what he’s learned studying them, and what he thinks about the various authorship theories regarding Shakespeare’s works.

The interview took place at the Humanities Institute at Boise State University, one of 52 locations in the United States chosen by the Folger Shakespeare Library to display the First Folio in 2016. It includes video of the First Folio itself, which was on display from August 20th – September 21st at Boise State.

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