From the first ‘modern’ edition of Shakespeare’s plays by Nicholas Rowe in 1709, questions about the status and provenance of the First Folio text have dominated the editorial debate. Many editors, including Theobald, Johnson, Capell, Jennens and Malone owned First Folios, and have left traces of their editorial preparation on these copies. Other First Folio owners have retrofitted their books with new insights from the commentary and editorial tradition. Tracing the relationship between editing and First Folios through to the present, this chapter also considers the intense scrutiny given to the text by two very different, but adjacent, investigators: the Baconian Ignatius Donnelly and the bibliographer Charlton Hinman. It discusses the importance of the First Folio to Baconian theories, the development of cryptography, and the New Bibliography.
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