Shakespeare Inc.

Illustration for TIME by Lou Beach

When two actors, Henry Condell and John Heminges, started putting together a book of all their friend's plays, they could not have guessed where it would lead. But they did know publishing was an expensive and risky business — if their labor of love wasn't going to end in financial disaster, it had to sell. By the time he died in 1616, William Shakespeare was already a popular playwright and well-known actor in England. So when Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies hit the shelves seven years later, the title page carried the author's name in big letters. Underneath it...

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