SHAKESPEARE, William (1564-1616)
Twelfe Night, Or what you will
London: Printed by Tho. Cotes, 1632. Folio. (12 1/8 x 8 1/2 inches). 255-275, pp.
Expertly bound to style in panelled calf, covers tooled in blind, upper cover lettered in gilt
Prized Second Folio edition of Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night,' the play that brings to life a witty and romantic tale of mistaken identities, mischievous pranks, and unexpected love, as Viola and her companions navigate the whimsical world of Illyria.
Shakespeare's famed four folios comprise the first four editions of his collected plays, all printed in the 17th century. The Second Folio of 1632, like the First Folio of 1623, contains 36 plays. It is estimated that fewer than 1000 copies of the Second Folio were printed and fewer than 200 copies are in existence today. "Twelfth Night" is a delightfully confusing tale of love, originally believed to have been written for the Twelfth Night festival on the last night of the Twelve Days of Christmas, around 1601. The play focuses on twins Viola and Sebastian, who, caught in a shipwreck, are separated but survive. Viola, disguised as a man named Cesario, goes on to work for Count Orsino. She falls in love with the count, though he is in love with Countess Olivia and sends Viola/Cesario to court her on his behalf. However, things take a turn when Olivia falls in love with Viola/Cesario instead. When Sebastian returns, the plot thickens as mistaken identities lead to further complications. The Shakespeare Folios have "an aura of book magic about them. For a bibliophile it is a volume devoutly to be wished for and rarely attained; to a library it is a crowning jewel of a collection. Shakespeare, indeed, is a name to conjure with. No lengthy explanations are needed; he is simply the most distinguished author in the English language" (Wolf).
STC 22274a. Pforzheimer 906. Greg III, 1113-1116. Jaggard, 496; Wolf, Legacies of Genius 36.