“THIS ENGLAND NEVER DID, NOR NEVER SHALL, LIE AT THE PROUD FOOT OF A CONQUEROR…”: KING JOHN, EXTRACTED FROM THE THIRD FOLIO, 1664
SHAKESPEARE. [The Life and Death of King John]. [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. $2900.
Eleven original leaves from the Third Folio, containing Shakespeare’s dramatization of King John’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 Cc1-[Dd5] contain King John. Based in part on Holinshed's Chronicles and the Book of Martyrs, King John is set in the 13th century, well before the Bard's other histories. "When I had read it as a boy," George Orwell reflected, "it seemed to me archaic, something dug out of a history book and not having anything to do with our own time. Well, when I saw it acted, what with its intrigues and doublecrossings, non-aggression pacts, quislings, people changing sides in the middle of a battle and what-not, it seemed to me extraordinarily up to date" ("The Rediscovery of Europe," Listener, 1942).
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.
Fine condition, handsomely bound.