Markings in rare Shakespeare First Folio in Philly library believed to be done by John Milton

John McDevitt
September 18, 2019 - 5:33 pm
Markings in the margin of a rare Shakespeare book at the Free Library of Philadelphia is now believed to be done by a famous 17th century poet.

John McDevitt/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Markings in the margin of a rare Shakespeare book at the Free Library of Philadelphia is now believed to be done by a famous 17th century poet.  

The library has had the book containing Shakespeare plays for the past 75 years. 

What makes the annotated copy of a First Folio of William Shakespeare extra special is the notations and corrections are believed to have been made by poet John Milton, who possibly owned the book.

Markings in the margin of a rare Shakespeare book at the Free Library of Philadelphia is now believed to be done by a famous 17th century poet.
John McDevitt/KYW Newsradio

"The one that it's opened to right now, that's the end of the play 'Measure For Measure.' And the beginning of 'Comedie of Errors.' And what you see, you know sort of substantive writing right there, is Milton was coping out the second stanza of a song that is sung to Mariana — one of the characters of 'Measure For Measure' — earlier in the play in the third act. But the second stanza wasn't included the first full act, just the first stanza," explained Caitlin Goodman, a curator in the Rare Book Department at the Parkway Central Library.

Scholars made the connection when Milton's handwriting samples were examined.  

The First Folio is on display at the library till Oct. 19.