A Feature Review of
The Millionaire and the Bard: Henry Folger’s Obsessive Hunt for Shakespeare’s First Folio
Hardback: Simon and Schuster, 2015
Buy now: [ Amazon ] [ Kindle ]
Reviewed by Anna Visser
In her prologue to The Millionaire and the Bard, author Andrea Mays says all that needs to be said about the book that is to follow: “This is a story of resurrection, of a magical book and two men, an American millionaire and an English playwright—the man who coveted the First Folio, and the man who composed it” (xvi). In this one, summative sentence, Mays reveals her awe and fascination with Shakespeare and his works, and she draws us into this tale of a man who revered Shakespeare even more than she does. The story that follows is, indeed, somehow magical—even to a reader who might not necessarily otherwise identify as a Shakespeare enthusiast.
Mays begins by explaining the history behind this magnificent book that would become the object of academic affection and collectors’ obsession—Shakespeare’s First Folio, a massive 900 page collection of 36 plays, collected and edited by two of Shakespeare’s contemporaries and fellow actors, John Heminges and Henry Condell.