Cover Artwork Revealed of New Children’s Folio That Aims to Bring Shakespeare to Life for the Next Generation, Marking 400th Anniversary of The First Folio

In the week of the 400th anniversary of the publication of the world-famous First Folio, the cover artwork and new images have been released of a special publication that aims to make Shakespeare more accessible to young people through an abridged version of this landmark book.

On 8 November 1623, London booksellers started to take delivery of a new title, Mr. William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies, which for the first time brought together Shakespeare’s plays in one publication.

This book, known more famously as the First Folio, has been the cornerstone of establishing and expanding Shakespeare’s enduring legacy on culture for centuries. Now a leading education and heritage charity and their publishing partner are keen to take on the mantle of continuing this legacy with a new version of the First Folio, targeted directly at children and young people.

‘’The First Folio set the highest bar for creativity, performance, and collaboration, and so we could think of no better way of marking and celebrating this important anniversary than to re-introduce the works and words of Shakespeare to young people. Empowering them to read or perform them as they choose through our new Children’s Folio.”

Said Professor Charlotte Scott, Director of Knowledge at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

The new book, entitled Shakespeare’s First Folio, All the Plays: A Children’s Edition, is aimed at children aged 7 to 14 and features edited versions of all 36 plays in the First Folio. Each play has been abridged by experts at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT) to be performed by as few as 8 people in 20 minutes, keeping Shakespeare’s original language.

This has been achieved by distilling each play to its essential characters and plot, so that children are introduced to the key moments in every play, within a compelling story.

Beautiful Words, Beautiful Illustrations

To accompany Shakespeare’s beautiful words and phrases, the Children’s Folio has been lavishly illustrated by Emily Sutton, described by The Times as “one of our greatest children’s illustrators.”

Emily meticulously researched each play and was inspired by the SBT’s extensive collection, which includes weapons, domestic objects, textiles, and early printed books, to create a stunning series of illustrations that wrap around the pages of each play and help to further immerse the reader in the plots of the plays and the vivid world created by Shakespeare.

Ensuring Access for the Next Generation

When published in early 2024, the first 10,000 copies will be distributed to 6,000 primary schools and 3,000 libraries across the UK for free by the SBT, along with a suite of online teaching resources to ensure that educators get the most out of the new publication.

“The Children’s Folio will help continue to make Shakespeare’s work and language accessible and engaging, as the First Folio did over 400 years ago. We are focusing on distributing copies of the book in communities that may have traditionally felt that Shakespeare isn’t for them and with the help of new learning resources that complement the book, we hope to inspire the next generation of Shakespeareans.”

Continued Andy Reeves, who leads the learning team at SBT, the organisers of the annual ‘Shakespeare Week’ celebration in schools across the UK.

The book will also be available to purchase online and in-store both in the UK and overseas.

“We are so proud of this flagship project and the opportunity to celebrate one of the greatest books ever published. The last exquisite illustrations for this special children’s edition are due to be delivered by Emily Sutton on the 400th anniversary of the publication of the First Folio thus completing a work which will capture the imagination of future generations and inspire them to read and perform Shakespeare for many years to come.”

Said Denise Johnstone-Burt, Publishing Director at Walker Books, the publisher of Shakespeare’s First Folio: All the Plays: A Children’s Edition.

For more information on the Children’s Folio project, including publication dates and pre-purchase information please visit

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