Published online by Cambridge University Press: 07 September 2010
The procuring of the Copy
The Winter's Tale is bibliographically one of the most interesting texts in the First Folio. In the first place, it is clear that it only just escaped being omitted from the Folio altogether, that Isaac Jaggard originally printed thirteen Comedies only, and that his men were well on with the Histories before the missing fourteenth comedy turned up. The evidence for all this has been brought together by a train of detective work, in which, as often happens in bibliography, several scholars have taken a hand.
It was, I believe, Sidney Lee who first noticed that there was something peculiar about the printing of this play. In the Introduction to the Oxford Facsimile (1902) of the First Folio he pointed out (i) that while the printer's signatures for the quires of the first thirteen Comedies run continuously from A to Z and those for the Histories run from a to x, a special set of signatures, Aa to Cc, are employed for The Winter's Tale, and (ii) that similarly, while the first thirteen plays of the Folio are printed straight on, without any blank pages being left between succeeding texts, The Winter's Tale has a blank at either end, one dividing it from Twelfth Night and the other from King John.