A joint initiative by The Bodleian Library in Oxford and Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC will see all 75 editions of William Shakespeare’s plays printed before 1641 digitised and made available online.
Previously only available to scholars, these quartos — early printed editions of Shakespeare’s plays — provide evidence of what he actually wrote and what appeared on the early English stage, where original manuscripts haven’t survived.
It will take a year to complete the task, after which online visitors will be able to compare images side-by-side, search plays, and mark and tag the texts.
“There will be countless new ways for scholars, teachers, and students to examine the quarto texts, particularly of ‘Hamlet’,” said Folger director Gail Kern Paster. “You find out all sorts of things — about how the copies went through the press, and also about the printing process.”
Will this make Shakespeare more enjoyable to study? Maybe if he had his own Facebook profile…