Henry Fuseli's 1793 painting Macbeth consulting the vision of the armed head, acquired by Henry Clay Folger in 1922, is a fantastical reproduction of Act IV, Scene 1. FPa27.
In 1603, James VI of Scotland ascended the English throne, becoming James I of England. London was alive with an interest in all things Scottish, and Shakespeare turned to Scottish history for material. He found a spectacle of violence and stories of traitors advised by witches and wizards, echoing James's belief in a connection between treason and witchcraft.
In depicting a man who murders to become king, Macbeth, one of William Shakespeare's plays, teases us with huge questions. Is Macbeth tempted by fate, or by his or his wife's ambition? Why does their success turn to ashes?
Like other plays, Macbeth speaks to each generation. Its story was once seen as that of a hero who commits an evil act and pays an enormous price. Recently, it has been applied to nations that overreach themselves and to modern alienation. The line is blurred between Macbeth's evil and this opponents' good, and there are new attitudes toward both witchcraft and gender.
Shakespeare wrote Macbeth in about 1606 or 1607. It was published in the 1623 First Folio.
The Folger owns almost 120 stand-alone translations of Macbeth in various languages (not including collected works). Cataloging of these works is ongoing as of early 2015, and many have full-level catalog records, but some works still have only partial records. Translations can be found Hamnet in by searching for "Translations"in the Genre/Form Term field, or by searching the Call Number (Left-Anchored) field for call numbers starting with PR2796 (see the list of Sh.Col. translations call numbers for specific language call numbers). Since not all translations are fully cataloged, some items may only turn up in one of these searches.
Macbeth Audio Edition from Simon & Schuster available on CD and as an audio download.
Ian Merrill Peakes
Richard Sheridan Willis
Other parts were played by members of the cast.
Directed by Robert Richmond.
Original music composed by Jessica Witchger.
In partnership with Simon & Schuster Audio
Listen to this Folger podcast that offers an introduction to the play via Folger actors and directors.
Explore the curated image group for Macbeth' in the Folger digital image collection.
Content Advisory: this image group contains representations of blood.
Hear Barbara Mowat, co-editor of the Folger Shakespeare Library editions, discuss the problems she faced while editing Macbeth.
Listen to Mowat talk about her approach to word choice and spelling issues in the play.
Below, Mowat discusses the different names for the three mysterious beings whose prophecies set the play in motion.