Something “Bad” on the Main Floor


Inspired by Washington and Lee University’s “Shakespeare 2016!” commemoration, the University Library is hosting an exhibit on Leyburn Library’s Main Floor entitled “The Bad Quarto.”


The earliest published edition of Shakespeare’s Hamlet was published in a small “paperback” edition, known as a quarto, in 1603.  Known as the “first quarto,” or sometimes the “bad quarto,” this earliest version (Q1) is much shorter and quite different from later published versions, including the Second Quarto in 1604 or the First Folio in 1623.   For more information on quartos (Hamlet, “bad,” and otherwise), see the Oxford Companion to Shakespeare and The First Two Quartos of Hamlet

The focal point of this exhibition in Leyburn Library is the Bad Quarto — a book created by a collective of book artists at the Virginia Arts of the Book Center (VABC) in Charlottesville.  The Virginia Arts of the Book Center is a work-space for book artists who do letterpress printing, bookbinding, papermaking, design, and printmaking.  Every year, the VABC creates a collective project and 2015’s project was “Bad Quarto,” an artists’ book interpretation of Q1, involving more than 20 printers, artists, and book binders.  Fifty-five copies of the book were produced.  The book is exhibited in two forms: the finished, bound book itself and a display of the 64 unbound pages of artwork, graphics, and printed text.

This exhibit will be available until 3 May 2016.

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