The Royal Shakespeare Company’s copy, held at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, was accidentally stolen by Pope Paul VI in 1964. This honest mistake occurred when three members of the RSC came to Rome to perform a recital before the Pope and an audience of 2,000 people. They brought the RSC’s First Folio to have the Pope bless it at the end of the performance. However, Pope Paul VI accepted it as a gift, having misunderstood the actors’ wish. According to the RSC, this almost caused an international incident. In this volume, one of the plays, Henry VIII, was possibly taken from another edition and Titus Andronicus presents several annotations and marginalia. As Rasmussen and West report, “the Folio ultimately returned to England, presumably unblessed” (158). Autographs in the copy attest to the ownership of Samuel Molyneux Madden, a writer and philanthropist. In 1889, the copy was purchased by Charles Edward Flower at an auction. The volume came from Halliwell-Phillipp’s library. Flower is the founder of the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, whose library focused on dramatic literature.
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