"MEN'S EVIL MANNERS LIVE IN BRASS; THEIR VIRTUES WE WRITE IN WATER": SHAKESPEARE'S HENRY VIII, EXTRACTED FROM THE THIRD FOLIO, 1664
SHAKESPEARE. [The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eight]. [London: Printed for P.C., 1664]. Folio (9 by 13-1/2 inches), period-style three-quarter calf gilt, red morocco spine labels, marbled boards. $3800.
Fourteen original leaves from the Third Folio, containing Shakespeare's dramatization of Henry VIII's reign, handsomely bound.
The four folios of Shakespeare are the first four editions of Shakespeare's collected plays. These were the only collected editions printed in the 17th century (a 1619 attempt at a collected edition in quarto form was never completed). The 1664 second issue of the Third Folio (from which this play was taken), is the first to include Pericles (along with six other spurious plays) and is therefore the first complete edition of Shakespeare's plays. The Third Folio is believed to be the scarcest of the four great 17th-century folio editions, a large part of the edition presumed destroyed in the Great London Fire of 1666. "The folios are incomparably the most important work in the English language" (W.A. Jackson, Pforzheimer Catalogue).
Leaves [Yv5]-[Aaa6] contain Shakespeare's Henry VIII. "Unlike every other Shakespearean history play, Henry VIII features no battle scenes, sword fights or murders. Instead of bloodshed, it offers the coronation of a queen, two different trials, a masked dance, an execution (dispatched offstage), a royal christening and plenty of intrigue simmering around the throne of a temperamental Tudor monarch" (New York Times). A cannon shot during a 1613 performance of the play started the fire that destroyed the original Globe Theater.
The facsimile title page and frontispiece reproduce these pages of the second issue of the Third Folio, bearing the date 1664 in the imprint rather than 1663. See Jaggard, 496.
Page 550 with old ink marginalia.
Light marginal thumbing, text clean, binding fine.