Art & Culture

One of world's most valuable books found

Anmar Frangoul | Special to
Treasured Shakespeare book found

A new copy of William Shakespeare's First Folio, described as "one of the most important books in the English language," has been discovered off the coast of Scotland.

The First Folio refers to the first collection of Shakespeare's plays. Published in 1623, it contains 36 plays – half of which had never been printed before – including seminal works such as A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth and The Tempest.

In May, Christie's will sell another copy of the First Folio, with an estimated price of between £800,000 and £1.2 million ($1.1 and $1.69 million).

Emma Smith, professor of Shakespeare Studies at the university, said she was initially skeptical that a First Folio had been found at Mount Stuart, a neo-Gothic mansion on the Isle of Bute.

"But when I went up to investigate, I could see from the watermarks and the idiosyncrasies of the text that it was genuine," Smith said. "It was a really exciting moment, I find First Folios to be such charismatic books."

Through her research, Smith found that the copy was once owned by Isaac Reed, an editor who worked in London more than 200 years ago.

"This is an exciting discovery because we didn't know it existed and it was owned by someone who edited Shakespeare in the 18th century," she said.

"It is an unusual Folio because it is bound in three volumes and has lots of spare blank pages which would have been used for illustrations," she added.

Widely regarded as a genius, Shakespeare – who along with his plays also wrote poetry – was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564, and died in 1616. This year marks the 400th anniversary of his death.