When were Shakespeare’s works collected and printed?

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literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

William Shakespeare never authorized the printing of any of his plays. The plays were actually printed by two of actors who worked with Shakespeare: Henry Condell and John Hemminge.

Plays, during Shakespeare's time, where not written as texts like they are today. Shakespeare actually hired a scribe to create the manuscripts for him. The name of the scribe was Ralph Crane. The first collection upon which Crane worked on came to be known as the First Folio given it was the first written collection of Shakespeare's works.

The First Folio was published seven years after Shakespeare's death in 1623. Published by William Jaggard and consisted of 36 of Shakespeare's plays and was reprinted three times.

The Second Folio was published in 1632. The Third Folio was published in 1663 and the Fourth Folio was published in 1685.

Both the Third and Fourth Folios contained 43 plays having 7 added to the folio in the Third.

Given that when Shakespeare created the plays, they were not really formalized texts. As stated before, Shakespeare hired a scribe to write down the dialogue of the plays as they were performed. None of Shakespeare's original texts of his plays exist. Collection was enacted by fellow actors, publishing houses, and the acting troupes with which Shakespeare worked.

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