In 1623 a team of stationers published what has become the most famous volume in English literary history: William Shakespeare's First Folio. Who were these publishers and how might their stories be bound up with those found within the book they created? Ben Higgins offers a radical new account of the First Folio by focusing on these four publishing businesses that made the volume. By moving between close scrutiny of the Folio publishers and a wider view of their significance within the early modern book trade, Higgins uses Shakespeare's stationers to explore the 'literariness' of the Folio; to ask how stationers have shaped textual authority; to argue for the interpretive potential of the 'minor' Shakespearean bookseller; and to examine the topography of Shakespearean publication.
Drawing on a host of fresh primary evidence from a wide range of sources, including court records, manuscript letters, bookseller's bills, and the literature itself, Shakespeare's Syndicate illuminates our understanding of how this landmark volume was made and what it has meant to scholars since. Moreover, it models exciting new ways of working with stationers and of reading the event of early modern publication itself. This innovative study demonstrates that despite four hundred years of history, the volume at the centre of Shakespeare's canon continues to generate new stories.
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