A worker poses with a first edition of the First Folio, the first collected edition of William Shakespeare's works. Reuters
Who hasn't heard of William Shakespeare? Perhaps no other poet and playwright has captured the minds of millions so tellingly not only in Britain, the country of his birth, but also overseas.
Lines like 'If music be the food of love, play on;' 'Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, my Romeo;' and 'The quality of mercy is not strain'd' still ring in the ears of his fans centuries after his death.
Interestingly, if a survey conducted a few years ago is to be believed, Shakespeare is more popular abroad than in Britain and makes a significant contribution to British prosperity and influence.
The British Council, which commissioned the YouGov survey of 18,000 people from 15 countries, said the results showed that internationally Shakespeare is widely known, liked and understood.
“Four hundred years after his death, Shakespeare’s work continues to play a vital role in educating and entertaining people around the world,” said the Council’s Rosemary Hilhorst in a statement.
Now, a rare 1623 book that brought together William Shakespeare's works for the first time will go up for auction in April, Christie's auction house announced on Friday.
The book, called "Comedies, Histories and Tragedies," is expected to sell for between $4 million and $6 million, the auctioneer said. Widely known as the First Folio, it is one of only six known complete copies in private hands.
The First Folio contains Shakespeare's 36 plays, including several that had never been published before and might have been lost without it, such as "Macbeth," "The Tempest," and "As You Like It." It was compiled by friends of the writer after his death.
The copy coming up for sale will be displayed on tour, starting next week in London, before heading to New York, Hong Kong and Beijing. It will be returned to New York for auction on April 24.
The book is being sold by Mills College, a private liberal arts college in Oakland, California.
The record auction price of a First Folio is nearly $6.2 million, paid in 2001, Christie's said.
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