The Shakespeare Thefts by Eric Rasmussen
In Search of the First Folios

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Synopsis

The first edition of Shakespeare's collected works, the First Folio, published in 1623, is one of the most valuable books in the world and has historically proven to be an attractive target for thieves. Of the 160 First Folios listed in a census of 1902, 14 were subsequently stolen-and only two of these were ever recovered. In his efforts to catalog all these precious First Folios, renowned Shakespeare scholar Eric Rasmussen embarked on a riveting journey around the globe, involving run-ins with heavily tattooed criminal street gangs in Tokyo, bizarre visits with eccentric, reclusive billionaires, and intense battles of wills with secretive librarians. He explores the intrigue surrounding the Earl of Pembroke, arguably Shakespeare's boyfriend, to whom the First Folio is dedicated and whose personal copy is still missing. He investigates the uncanny sequence of events in which a wealthy East Coast couple drowned in a boating accident and the next week their First Folio appeared for sale in Kansas. We hear about Folios that were censored, the pages ripped out of them, about a volume that was marked in red paint-or is it blood?-on every page; and of yet another that has a bullet lodged in its pages. Part literary detective story, part Shakespearean lore, The Shakespeare Thefts will charm the Bard's many fans.


 

About Eric Rasmussen

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Eric Rasmussen is department chair and professor of English at the University of Nevada. He is co-editor of the RSC Complete Works of William Shakespeare, the Norton Anthology of English Renaissance Drama, and of the works of Christopher Marlowe in the Oxford World's Classics series as well as individual plays in the Arden Shakespeare series, the Revels Plays series, and the Malone Society series. Since 1997, he has written the annual review of editions and textual studies for Shakespeare Survey. He lives in Reno, Nevada.
 
Published October 11, 2011 by Palgrave Macmillan Trade. 237 pages
Genres: History, Travel, Literature & Fiction, Crafts, Hobbies & Home. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Shakespeare Thefts

Kirkus Reviews

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These chapters, distributed throughout, are interrupted occasionally with other segments—e.g., Rasmussen’s discovery in 2005 of a painting he believed/hoped was a portrait of Shakespeare (it wasn’t) and his story about an employee of Isaac Jaggard, printer of the First Folio, who left a hair stuc...

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The Wall Street Journal

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Scholars, bibliophiles and thieves will go to odd lengths to get one of the 232 known copies of the 1632 edition of Shakespeare's plays.

Nov 07 2011 | Read Full Review of The Shakespeare Thefts: In Se...

Washington Independent Review of Books

Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies was a larger book, bound in calfskin and yellow silk, running 908 pages and selling for the princely sum of £1, “an enormous sum in an age when a skilled tradesman could expect to earn £4 in a year.” Some 200-plus copies of what is now kno...

Oct 12 2011 | Read Full Review of The Shakespeare Thefts: In Se...

Bookmarks Magazine

In his efforts to catalog all these precious First Folios, renowned Shakespeare scholar Eric Rasmussen embarked on a riveting journey around the globe, involving run-ins with heavily tattooed criminal street gangs in Tokyo, bizarre visits with eccentric, reclusive billionaires, and intense...

Nov 13 2011 | Read Full Review of The Shakespeare Thefts: In Se...

Literary Review

'When you hunt for First Folios for over a decade,' writes Eric Rasmussen, 'you can become a bit obsessed.' That doesn't even come close.

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