The preface to the FIRST FOLIO EDITION OF SHAKESPEARE’S PLAYS was published in 1623. John Heminge and Henrie Condell. My copy resides in a set of Harvard Classics purchased at a book sale at the Coquitlam Library in British Columbia.
Included in the Famous Prefaces and includes by French critic Adolphe Tain said
“Little more than half of Shakespeare’s plays were published during his lifetime; and in the publication of these there is no evidence that the author had any hand. Seven years after his death, John Heminge and Henry Condell, two of his fellow-actors, collected the unpublished plays, and, in 1623, issued them along with the others in a single volume, usually known as the First Folio. When one considers what would have been lost had it not been for the enterprise of these men, it seems safe to say that the volume they introduced by this quaint and not too accurate preface, is the most important single book in the imaginative literature of the world.”
The originals can be seen in some of the most prestigious Libraries in the world and those now include our own University of British Columbia. This narration is by Duncan Fraser includes a video from the University of British Columbia on it’s recent acquisition of a First Folio.
You no longer have to fly to Washington or England to see an original copy.