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400th Anniversary of First Recorded Sale of Shakespeare’s First Folio

Limited Edition Childrens Folio - credit SBT (2)
Shakespeare’s First Folio: All The Plays: A Children’s Edition

A new, limited edition of an abridged version of Shakespeare’s First Folio for children has been announced on the day the first recorded sale of Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies took place in 1623.

Shakespeare’s First Folio: All The Plays: A Children’s Edition is the first-ever illustrated edition, for children, of the book that brought Shakespeare’s plays together 400 years ago. Now, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the organisation behind its creation, has announced a limited-edition version of 400 copies to mark the 400th anniversary of the publication and first recorded sale of the First Folio.

This remarkable collection, illustrated by award-winning artist Emily Sutton, includes all 36 plays in the First Folio, carefully abridged so that Shakespeare’s words can be easily read and performed by new generations. The book also includes a new, specially commissioned poem by Michael Rosen.

Each book in the limited edition is individually numbered and presented in a beautifully designed box, featuring Emily’s exquisite artwork inspired by 17th-century embroidery. The same design is reproduced in stunning gold foil on the front cover.

This design, like many of Emily’s illustrations throughout the book, is inspired by items from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust’s collection, the largest single collection of Shakespeare-related objects in the UK.

Folio fans will also receive a signed print of the portrait of Shakespeare from the book by the award-winning artist Emily Sutton.

“Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies was entered in the Stationers’ Register on 8 November 1623.  A month later, on 5 December 1623, Sir Edward Dering made the first recorded purchase of the book we know today as the First Folio.

We could not think of a better way to mark this anniversary than announcing our limited edition of the Children’s Folio. From the sumptuous illustrations to the skilful abridging of Shakespeare’s works to ensure that they are as accessible as possible, whilst still retaining his wonderful language, this is a collection that people will treasure for generations.”

Commented Rachael North, director of museum and public programmes for the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. 

Denise Johnstone-Burt, publishing director at Walker Books, the publisher of Shakespeare’s First Folio: All the Plays: A Children’s Edition said,

“This flagship project brings the works of our most important writer to a younger generation, in an accessible form. The Limited Edition is a fantastic opportunity not only to celebrate one of the greatest books ever published but also to own something rare and special.  It is a thing of great beauty to treasure for generations to come.”

Alongside the announcement of the limited edition, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, an educational and heritage charity, is also delivering a project to distribute 10,000 copies of the trade edition of the Children's Folio to schools and libraries across the UK.

“The entry in Dering’s account book tells us he purchased ‘two volumes of Shakespeare’s plays’ for the sum of £2, most likely at the shop of one of its publishers, Edward Blount.

We know from notes in his account book that Dering purchased books as gifts, so perhaps he kept a copy of the First Folio for himself and bought a second copy to give as a gift. In the same vein of friendship and sharing, we are delighted that we will be able to share the Children’s Folio with schools and libraries across the country, helping to inspire a new generation to have a first positive engagement with Shakespeare.”

Added Professor Charlotte Scott, director of knowledge at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Shakespeare’s First Folio: All The Plays: A Children’s Edition will be published in April 2024 by Walker Books. The limited edition is priced at £100 and will be available in the UK exclusively from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, with only 300 copies of the 400-run available to purchase. To reserve your copy please visit