Shall I compare thee ...

Welcome to First Folios Compared.  

To mark the 400th anniversary of the publication of Mr. William Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories & Tragedies (otherwise known as the First Folio), this website brings together dozens of digitised copies of this literary masterpiece. For the first time in history, you will be able to compare them, side by side, from the comfort of your own home.  

The publication of the First Folio in 1623 brought together 36 of Shakespeare's plays, 18 of which have never been published before and would likely have been lost forever. Over the last 400 years, the surviving First Folios have found shelter with institutions and individuals across the globe. This site brings together over 20% of all known surviving copies for you to examine and explore. 

As well as the stories told through the plays themselves, each copy offers up another narrative, depicting their unique journeys through history. Some are in prime condition, while others have received annotations, tears, or even lost pages. Many also bear printed differences – changes made by the printers as they produced each copy. Whatever your interest, the opportunity to compare copies of this historic work is here.

This is an Open Access project created in partnership with a number of institutions around the world. Find out about our contributing partners.