Friday, September 10, 2004, 06:35 PM
Much ado about surfing
LONDON (Reuters) - Shakespeare may have written his plays with a quill pen, but now the Bard's works are taking a leap into the digital age as the British Library publishes some of the earliest editions of his plays on a new website.
The collection includes 93 copies of 21 Shakespeare plays from Titus Andronicus to Hamlet.
Shakespeare's plays began to be printed in 1594, in the form of small, cheap pamphlets called quartos, which would have cost as little as a sixpence.
Many would have been sold to the audience after performances had finished.
But they haven't been seen in public for centuries.
"The last time the quartos were available to an audience that went beyond scholars, curators and collectors was barely a generation after Shakespeare's death," said Moira Goff, head of British Collections 1501-1800 at the library.
"Given that Shakespeare left no manuscripts behind, the quartos are as close as we are able to get to what he actually wrote," Goff added.
The plays can be viewed online at: http://www.bl.uk/treasures/shakespeare/homepage.html
Shakespeare wrote at least 37 plays and collaborated on several more between about 1590 and 1613. He died in 1616.