Shakespeare's First Folio's rare original copy sells for £2 million.

At Sotheby's, a 400-year-old copy of the playwright's first collection of plays, which included Macbeth and Twelfth Night, was auctioned off.

At Sotheby's auction house in New York, an original copy of William Shakespeare's first collection of plays fetched more than £2 million.

On Thursday night, a private collector purchased The First Folio, which is frequently cited as one of the most significant works of English literature.

The edition, which is more than 400 years old, is made up of 36 plays. Only 220 of the 750 copies of the manuscript that were printed are known to still exist.

18 of Shakespeare's best-known plays, including Macbeth, The Tempest, Julius Caesar, and Twelfth Night, might have been lost without the First Folio because there are no extant copies of his plays from his time.

The book was put together by Shakespeare's fellow actors John Heminge and Henry Condell and released in 1623, seven years after the writer had away.

The plays belonged to an "important private collector" when they were last sold in 1996. The Gordon family originally owned the book, and references to them may be found throughout the writings.

The First Folio was created with the goal of preserving the plays and correcting "poor quartos," or pirated copies that were allegedly based on inaccurate memory reconstructions. To make sure the texts were as accurate as feasible, Heminge and Condell cross-referenced prompt books, authorial fair copy, and working drafts.

The distinctions the two made between "comedies," "tragedies," and "histories" still influence how plays are read today.

The British political activist and historian R W Seton-Watson later acquired the manuscript, which was then purchased by Chicago real estate executive and bibliophile Abel E. Berland. Over the years, different annotations, doodling, and markings have been made by the book's owners.

Only 20 copies of the manuscript are known to still be in private hands as of the Thursday auction. Five copies are kept at the British Library, and the remaining copies are on exhibit in libraries and museums around the globe.

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