#39 A collection of plays, published separately (1697-1709)
Individual copies of Shakespeare’s plays were first published as small, unbound pamphlets (about the size of items 34-37) that were held together by stitching a thread through the pages. Once a customer had collected a sufficient number of printed plays, they could be bound into a single volume, thereby becoming an actual book. The Shakespeare First Folio simply imitated this common practice by providing customers with a convenient collection of plays all in one volume. This item is a collection of plays published around the turn of the eighteenth century by different publishers in different years. The owner of these plays then had them bound into this volume. One early owner has provided a table of contents of the book at the back; a similar list, likely written by a later bibliographer or bookseller, is also visible. The collection is coherent both chronologically and generically—all the plays are comedies. The first play is Sir George Etherege’s The Comical Revenge. The hero of the play, Sir Frederick Frollick, is a transgressive young libertine and man about town, which explains the suggestive subtitle “Love in a Tub.” First performed and published in 1664, it was phenomenally successful and influential; this copy, published in 1697, was one of many reprints.