When William Shakespeare died in 1616, only about half of his plays had ever been printed, in small one-play editions called quartos. Another 18 plays are known today only because they are included in the 1623 First Folio, the first collected edition of the plays.
In 1709, Nicholas Rowe became the first modern editor of Shakespeare’s plays, making the text more accessible through tools such as lists of characters and act and scene divisions. Editors in every age—including the present—have addressed a variety of questions, including how to make sense of conflicting early versions of the plays. Other publishers have taken the text in new directions, from foreign-language editions to graphic novels.
Below, you will find a number of resources about the publication of Shakespeare’s plays and poems, including an authoritative essay from the Folger Shakespeare Editions, and a guide to further reading.