The First Folio is the name given to the collection of William Shakespeare’s 36 plays published in 1623. The First Folio, printed seven years after Shakespeare’s death, brought together 36 plays – 18 of which would otherwise not have been recorded. Without this publication, there would be no copy of plays such as Macbeth, Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, As You Like It and The Tempest.
Academics who authenticated the book called it a rare and significant find. Authenticating a copy involves a series of technical checks on, among other things, the watermarked paper and printing process.
Prof Smith, author of Shakespeare’s First Folio: Four Centuries of an Iconic Book, says it is uncertain how many copies were produced – although some put the figure at about 750.
About 230 copies are known still to exist. The last copy found was two years ago, in what had been a Jesuit library in St Omer in France. A copy owned by Oxford University sold for £3.5m in 2003.