Books | July 23, 2022 6:00 am

Copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio Sells for $2.4 Million at Auction

A book with more history than most

Shakespeare
William Shakespeare, in statue form.
Taha/Unsplash

Hundreds of years after his death, William Shakespeare still has a pronounced influence on literature and popular culture. Shakespeare’s work is so ubiquitous in 2022 that it can be surprising to learn that the preservation of his work wasn’t a foregone conclusion. A British Library article on the First Folio, published in 1623, points to it as the primary reason why 18 of Shakespeare’s plays endured to the present day.

Not surprisingly, then, copies of the First Folio are highly in demand among collectors and institutions. And one of them recently sold for a nine-figure sum at auction. The Guardian brings news of a recent auction at Sotheby’s, when one of the approximately 220 copies to survive to the present day (out of 750 printed) sold for £2,000,000 — the equivalent of $2.4 million.

The First Folio compiled 36 of Shakespeare’s plays, and was edited after Shakespeare’s death by two of his colleagues, John Heminge and Henry Condell.

The Guardian‘s article notes that this copy of the First Folio previously changed hands in 1996, and is one of 20 First Folios that are held in private collections. Details on who purchased this particular edition have not been revealed. Whoever it is now owns a significant piece of literary history.