Special Collections & Archives Blog

Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, First Quarto Edition

Monday, March 15, 2010 1:50 pm

Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar

First Quarto Edition (1684)

Eighteen of Shakespeare’s plays were published in quarto editions – individual plays printed in small format – prior to the 1623 first collected edition (first folio) of Shakespeare’s works. Julius Caesar was not published in quarto until much later: the first edition, of which ZSR’s Special Collections holds a copy, did not appear until 1684.

The quarto format, so named because sheets from the printing press were folded into quarters to assemble the book, was the Renaissance equivalent of a modern trade paperback. Small, portable, and fairly cheap to produce, quartos were the standard format for plays, poems, and other non-scholarly works in 15th -and 16th -century Europe.

Julius Caesar was reprinted in quarto many times throughout the 1680s and 90s, a testament to the play’s great appeal for Restoration audiences. The first quarto edition includes, on the title page verso, a cast listing of the actors who appeared in a production at the Theatre Royal.

Wake Forest’s copy is from the library of Charles Henry Babcock. Babcock apparently purchased the book from the estate of Washington, D. C. lawyer Frank J. Hogan, who had the volume bound in red morocco leather by Rivière.


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