Illustrated by Neil Packer
Exclusive New Foreword by Dame Judi Dench &
Introduction by Gregory Doran
Limited to 1,000 copies | $1,500
Available exclusively at foliosociety.com/shakespeare from
September 26, 2023
LONDON, Sept. 15, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Celebrating the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s First Folio, The Folio Society will release a landmark limited edition of Shakespeare’s The Complete Plays on Tuesday, September 26, its most ambitious limited edition in the company’s 75-year history. www.foliosociety.com/shakespeare
The Folio Society’s editorial team has worked in close collaboration with internationally recognised Shakespeare expert, Professor Ann Thompson to create a definitive new edition of Shakespeare’s plays, which will include works from the First Folio and two plays originally omitted from the 1623 First Folio: Pericles and The Two Noble Kinsmen.
The limited edition will feature an exclusive new foreword by Dame Judi Dench, and a new introduction from the former artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Gregory Doran, celebrating their distinguished careers and shared enthusiasm for the Bard.
Published in three volumes: comedies; tragedies; histories; and limited to 1,000 sets, each hand-numbered and signed by renowned illustrator Neil Packer.
Neil has created 39 new illustrations and has designed the bindings, inspired by Elizabethan blackwork embroidery, which have been perfectly replicated in sumptuous silk and linen jacquard cloth woven by Stephen Walters & Sons – the oldest silk-weaving company in Britain.
Typeset in Caslon and beautifully printed throughout in black and red inks, the bindery at Smith Settle, Yorkshire, has spent months painstakingly hand-binding each volume, using exemplary craftsmanship and traditional techniques. In addition, the limitation certificate has been set in hot metal and printed letterpress by Stan Lane, a master artisan typesetter and printer, in his studio in Gloucestershire.
Shakespeare’s First Folio was published in November 1623 and is considered one of the most influential books in history. Containing 36 of Shakespeare’s plays, the First Folio was compiled by Shakespeare’s colleagues seven years after the playwright’s death, ensuring that his work was preserved for future generations. With 750 copies originally published, there are now 235 copies known to remain, with 50 copies in the UK. The majority of the surviving copies of the First Folio are owned by institutions around the world, with 27 in private ownership. In 2020 a ‘complete’ copy was sold at auction for $10 million.
The Complete Plays will be priced at $1,500 each and available exclusively from The Folio Society from September 26, 2023.
Joanna Reynolds, CEO of The Folio Society, said: “The Complete Plays is the most ambitious limited edition The Folio Society has produced. When we approached this project we knew we would need to do justice to arguably the greatest book ever published in the English language, by producing the most magnificent limited edition ever created. It has been a privilege to work with so many dedicated craftspeople and experts in creating this edition. We look forward to sharing it with our readers.”
Tom Walker, Publishing Director at The Folio Society, said: “This is a thrilling example of contemporary bookmaking at its very finest: using the most traditional of production techniques at the same time as designing and crafting an edition which is exquisitely modern and made to last for generations.”
Neil Packer, illustrator, said: “This edition is a celebration and a homage to the 1623 First Folio and although it is in no way a facsimile of that edition, we did want it to look and literally feel like it is a direct successor. I was keen to tie the images to the ‘theatre’ rather than ‘real world’ and so I have tried to inject an element of toy theatre into them. You could almost imagine the figures depicted as tiny cardboard cut outs in a miniature theatre.”
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Book Production Film
Neil Packer, Illustrator
Stephen Walters & Sons Cloth Weaving:
Notes to Editors
About Folio Society
The Folio Society, based in London, publishes beautifully produced, illustrated hardback books. From a single purchase to a lifetime of collecting, book lovers around the world can buy these exquisite editions exclusively from their website, foliosociety.com. Proudly independent for its 75-year history, in 2021 under the leadership of its CEO, Joanna Reynolds, The Folio Society became an Employee Ownership Trust. The Folio Society is committed to a progressive sharing of power and profit in publishing, and this is reflected in their new status.
The Folio Society publishes some of the best names in publishing past and present, across the globe in high specification, collector editions. Notable publications include Frank Herbert’s Dune, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Andrew Chaikin’s A Man on the Moon and Alice Walker’s The Color Purple among many other contemporary and classic titles including a publishing partnership with Marvel delivering the world-recognised, iconic brand’s luxury editions.
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About Neil Packer
Neil was born in Birmingham in 1961. He trained at the Colchester School of Art before becoming a full-time illustrator in 1984 with the publication of his first children’s book. He has had a long career working in design, publishing and advertising, mostly in the United States. He has illustrated a number of titles for The Folio Society, including I, Claudius (1994), The Name of the Rose (2001), Catch-22 (2004), One Hundred Years of Solitude (2006), Foucault’s Pendulum (2016), Mythical Beasts (2021) and most recently The Divine Comedy. Packer’s work has been exhibited in London, Singapore and the United States.
About Professor Ann Thompson
Professor Thompson, director of the London Shakespeare Centre based at King’s and co-organiser of the London Shakespeare Seminar, active in a number of areas of Shakespeare Studies, and is one of the General Editors of the Arden Shakespeare series.
Professor Thompson is on the Advisory Boards of the journals Shakespeare Survey and Shakespeare (the relatively new journal of the British Shakespeare Association) and the Advisory Board of the International Shakespeare Association (conference committee). She frequently lectures on Shakespeare at conferences and other events in the UK and overseas including, in the last few years, the USA, Canada, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Japan and Taiwan.
About Dame Judi Dench
Since playing Ophelia in Hamlet at The Old Vic Theatre over 60 years ago, Judi Dench has garnered wide popular and critical admiration for a career marked by outstanding performances in classical and contemporary roles on both stage and screen. She has won numerous major awards – including an Academy Award, ten BAFTA Awards and a record eight Laurence Olivier Awards, and in recognition of her many achievements she received an OBE (Order of the British Empire) in 1970, became a DBE (Dame of the British Empire) in 1988, and in 2005 was awarded a Companion of Honour.
About Gregory Doran
Gregory Doran is Artistic Director Emeritus of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He has been described as ‘one of the supreme Shakespeare directors of our era’ (The Financial Times), and ‘one of the finest present-day directors of Shakespeare’ (The Sunday Telegraph). He joined the Royal Shakespeare Company as an actor in 1987, and became its Artistic Director in 2012, programming his first season from September 2013. Greg was awarded the Sam Wanamaker Prize for pioneering work in Shakespearean Theatre in 2012, in 2023 was the recipient of the prestigious Pragnell Shakespeare Prize, is an honorary associate of the British Shakespeare Association, an honorary senior research fellow of the Shakespeare Institute, and a trustee of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
About Smith Settle
Founded in 1981, they are among the now rare breed of artisan binders, crafting beautiful books that are sewn and bound by hand, Smith Settle are proud to continue the tradition of craftsmanship in the printing and bookbinding industry with an enviable reputation for the highest quality printing and bookbinding.
About Stephen Walters & Sons
Stephen Walters is a renowned weaving company, known globally for combining artisan skills with the latest technology to design and manufacture exclusive jacquard fabrics for the fashion and accessories market. The 300-year-old family business proudly manufactures the fabrics at their mill in Sudbury, Suffolk.
SOURCE The Folio Society