Fiasco Theater’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.237  Thursday, 15 May 2014


From:        Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:        Thursday, May 15, 2014

Subject:    Fiasco Theater’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona


Last night, I saw the amazing Fiasco Theater’s six-person version of The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Two Gents is not one of my favorite Shakespeares to say the least; in fact, it is right down there in the cellar with Taming of the Shrew and The Merchant of Venice as one of the few Shakespeare plays that I find nearly impossible to have a satisfactory experience with. However, Fiasco Theater pulled it off, milking every joke in the text and then some. As one would expect Crab stole the show. Instead of a “real” dog, Crab was played by a convincingly real Zachery Fine (AKA Valentine). As Crab, Fine’s expressions and actions reminded me of the loveable but mischievous dogs in the Saturday morning cartoons of my childhood. One of the funniest bits was when Lance (Andy Grotelueschen) commanded Crab to fetch a ball, or was it balls, from Speed (Paul L. Coffey)—delicacy forbids my describing this bit any further. Proteus was played by Noah Brody, one of the three founders and co-directors with Jessie Austrian (Julia) and Ben Steinfeld (who will appear in Cymbeline). To complete the company, Emily Young was a fine Sylvia and Lucetta. There was much music and song in a wholly enjoyable and satisfying production. I look forward to the company’s Cymbeline in a few weeks. 


[EMLS] New Issue Published

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.235  Thursday, 15 May 2014


From:        Andrew Duxfield <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         May 15, 2014 at 3:33:23 PM EDT

Subject:    [EMLS] New Issue Published


Dear readers and contributors,


Early Modern Literary Studies has just published its latest issue at We invite you to review the Table of Contents here and then visit our web site to review articles and items of interest.


Thanks for the continuing interest in our work,


Dr Andrew Duxfield (on behalf of the EMLS editorial team)

Sheffield Hallam University

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Early Modern Literary Studies

Vol 17, No 1 (2014)

Table of Contents




Heywood, Henslowe and Hercules: Tracking 1 and 2 Hercules in Heywood’s Silver and Brazen Ages

Douglas Arrell


Turning the Tables on Bacon: Computer-Assisted Baconian Philology

Peter Pesic


Milton’s Image of the Tartar: ‘Global Leviathan’ vs. ‘Global Commonwealth’

Joy Lu


Milton's  Aevum : The Time Structure of Grace in  Paradise Lost

Ayelet Langer





‘Mr Pett’ Identified? A Forgotten Early Modern Playwright

Matteo Pangallo



Book Reviews


Philippa Kelly, The King and I  (London: Bloomsbury, 2011)

Steve Mentz


Tim Fitzpatrick, Playwright, Space and Place in Early Modern Performance: Shakespeare and Company  (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011)

Alison Searle


David Loewenstein and Paul Stevens, eds, Early Modern Nationalism and Milton’s England  (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008)

Christopher Ivic


Sean Lawrence, Forgiving the Gift: The Philosophy of Generosity in Shakespeare and Marlowe  (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 2012)

Holly Faith Nelson


Tom MacFaul, Poetry and Paternity in Renaissance England: Sidney, Spenser, Shakespeare, Donne and Jonson  (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,


Erin A. McCarthy


Chris Stamatakis, Sir Thomas Wyatt and the Rhetoric of Rewriting: ‘Turning the Word’  (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012)

Patrick Hart


Frances Cruickshank, Verse and Poetics in George Herbert and John Donne (Farnham: Ashgate, 2010)

Joel Swann



Theatre Reviews


King LearThe Taming of the ShrewA Midsummer Night's Dream, and Cymbeline , presented by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, February-November 2013

Geoff Ridden


Twelfth Night presented by Propeller at the Hampstead Theatre, July 2, 2013

Bill Gelber


Othello, presented by the Royal National Theatre at the Olivier Theatre, July 4, 2013

Bill Gelber


Coriolanus, presented by the Shakespeare Theatre Company at Sidney Harmon Hall, Washington, DC, March 28 - June 2, 2013

Noel Sloboda


The Duchess of Malfi, presented by Eyestrings Theatre at the Gulbenkian Theatre, Canterbury (touring), 9th October 2013

Thomas Larque



Books received


Books Received

Andrew Duxfield


Early Modern Literary Studies

Register as an Auditor for the Sixteenth British Graduate Shakespeare Conference

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.234  Wednesday, 14 May 2014


From:        British Graduate Shakespeare Conference <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         May 14, 2014 at 7:02:52 AM EDT

Subject:    Register as an Auditor for the Sixteenth British Graduate Shakespeare Conference


On behalf of the committee for the British Graduate Shakespeare Conference, I would like to warmly invite you to attend our Sixteenth Conference as an Auditor this summer on the 5th-7th June. 


Registration closes on the 23rd May—to avoid paying a late fee, make sure you register before this date! 


Please find all the information you need below, I look forward to welcoming you this June to this fantastic conference at The Shakespeare Institute. 


Best wishes,

Charlotte Horobin

Publicity PR. 

British Graduate Shakespeare Conference



Sixteenth Annual British Graduate Shakespeare Conference

5th – 7th June 2014

The Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham


We invite Graduate students with interests in Shakespeare and Renaissance Studies to join us in June for the Sixteenth Annual British Graduate Shakespeare Conference.


This interdisciplinary conference, celebrating its sixteenth anniversary in 2014, provides a friendly and stimulating academic forum in which Graduate students from all over the world can present their research and meet together in an active centre of Shakespeare scholarship in Shakespeare’s home town of Stratford-upon-Avon. Undergraduate students in their final two years of study are also invited to attend the conference as auditors.


The conference will feature talks by David Crystal (University of Wales, Bangor), Richard Buckley (University of Leicester Archaeological Services), Ewan Fernie (Shakespeare Institute), Tony Howard (University of Warwick), Grace Ioppolo (University of Reading), Simon Palfrey (University of Oxford), and Anna Marsland from the RSC. A round table discussion about Shakespeare’s collaborative plays will be led by Peter Kirwan (University of Nottingham) and Will Sharpe (University of Birmingham).


Delegates will also have the opportunity to attend two RSC productions: Henry IV Part II, directed by Gregory Doran, and starring Antony Sher as Falstaff, and The Roaring Girl, part of the Roaring Girls season, both at a group-booking price. Lunch will be provided on each day, and we will be hosting a party and a reception  for the delegates.


The deadline for registering as auditors is Friday 23rd May 2014. You can still make a payment after this date, as late as on the door upon arrival at the Shakespeare Institute BUT any kind of transaction carried out after 23 MAY will be automatically qualified as Late Fee and no concessions apply. 


The cost of this year’s conference is £55 for all three days, or £20 per day.



Shakespeare Institute student: £45 for all three days or £15 per day.

Shakespeare Institute alumni: £50 for all three days or £17.50 per day.

UoB College of Arts and Law undergraduate student: £50 for all three days or £17.50 per day.

 The late registration fee is £70 for all three days or £25 per day. Concessions do not apply.

For more information on the conference and registration, visit: or


Find us on Facebook and on Twitter, Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



The Sixteenth British Graduate Shakespeare Conference

5-7 June 2014

The Shakespeare Institute

Mason Croft, Church Street


CV37 6HP



E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  


T: @britgrad



CFP: Shakespeare and the Visual Arts

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.232  Monday, 12 May 2014


From:        Michele Marrapodi <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         May 11, 2014 at 2:16:00 PM EDT

Subject:    Shakespeare and the Visual Arts - Call for Papers


Call for Papers



The Italian Influence


Edited by

Michele Marrapodi and Keir Elam


Critical investigation into the rubric of “Shakespeare and the visual arts” has generally focused on the influence exerted by the works of Shakespeare on a number of artists, painters, and sculptors in the course of the centuries. Drawing on the poetics of intertextuality, and profiting from the more recent concepts of cultural mobility and permeability between cultures in the early modern period, this volume will study instead the use or mention of Renaissance material arts and artists in Shakespeare’s oeuvre. Among the great variety of possible topics, contributors may like to consider:


- the impact of optics and pictorial perspective on the plays or poems;

- anamorphosis and trompe l’oeil effects on the whole range of visual representation;  

- the rhetoric of “verbal painting” in dramatic and poetic discourse; 

- the actual citation of classical and Renaissance artists;

- the legacy of iconographic topoi;

- the humanistic debate or Paragone of the Sister Arts;

- the use of emblems and emblematic language; 

- explicit and implicit ekphrasis and ekphrastic passages in the plays or poems;

- ekphrastic intertextuality, etc.


Contributors are invited to submit proposals by 31st August 2014 to the addresses of the editors below. They should send a one-page abstract of their proposed chapter on the relationship between the age of Shakespeare and Renaissance visual culture, including theoretical approaches to the arts in the drama of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Each abstract (approx. 300 words) should include the author’s name, email, affiliation, and title of the proposed contribution.


Prof. Michele Marrapodi

University of Palermo, Italy.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Prof. Keir Elam

University of Bologna, Italy.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Lear in Connecticut

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.231  Wednesday, 7 May 2014


From:        David Richman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         May 6, 2014 at 8:42:49 AM EDT

Subject:    Lear in Connecticut


This is a year of Lears. I am adding to their number. 


I will be acting King Lear this summer with Shakesperience, a thriving Shakespeare company founded by my former student Emily Mattina. Emily will direct, and costumes will be designed by another former student, Julie Leavitt, now a Prof of theatrical design at Fairfield.


More info about the production can be found at



Jun. 26 - 29 is King Lear as a part of Shakespeare In Library Park in Waterbury, CT.


August 6-10 is King Lear at Shakespeare on the Shoreline in Guilford, CT.


August 23 - 24 is King Lear at McLaughlin Vineyard in Sandy Hook, CT.


David Richman 


CFP: OVSC (October 24-5) OSU

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.230  Wednesday, 7 May 2014


From:        Joseph Sullivan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         May 6, 2014 at 10:21:31 AM EDT

Subject:    CFP: OVSC (October 24-5) OSU


The Ohio Valley Shakespeare Conference

Call for Papers

“Lovers, Madmen and Poets:

Shakespeare and the Imaginary, Supernatural, and Divine”

October 24 and 25, 2014

Ohio State University

Columbus, Ohio


Plenary Speakers:

Evelyn Gajowski, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

David George, Urbana University


The Ohio Valley Shakespeare Conference seeks papers and panels relating to all things Shakespearean, especially those focusing on the spectral, the fantastic, the mad, and the fey. We take our cue from Theseus: “Lovers and madmen have such seething brains, / Such shaping fantasies, that apprehend / More than cool reason ever comprehends.” The place of the world-beyond-the world, the line between reality and fantasy, and the demarcation of the sane from the mad are ever-present and controversial aspects of Shakespeare’s work and of early modern literature more broadly. As the plays we now call ‘romances’ or ‘dark comedies’ suggest, the transformation of the tragic into the comedic relies, to some extent, on the willing suspension of disbelief, on the capacity to accept what is otherwise contrary to our understanding, expectation, or experience. From Samuel Pepys’ condemnation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to the oblique resonances between Hamlet and Derrida’s Specters of Marx, the relationship between the ‘unreal’ and the ‘real’ is everywhere present and significant in Shakespeare’s works, and centrally a focus of performance history and critical reception from the earliest moments to the present. This conference will especially highlight these aspects of Shakespeare’s oeuvre.


Join us October 24-25, 2014 in Columbus, Ohio. Papers of 20 minutes, roundtable topics, and suggestions for panels on Shakespeare’s work and that of his contemporaries welcome.

Please send abstracts of 500 words to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by September 12, 2014.


The OVSC publishes a volume of selected papers each year, and conferees are welcome to submit revised versions of their papers for consideration. Students who present are eligible to compete for the M. Rick Smith Memorial Prizes. More information is available at


Joseph Sullivan, Ph.D.

Director of Assessment

Associate Professor of English

Marietta College

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Shakespearean Perceptions – Extension to CFP

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.229  Monday, 5 May 2014


From:        Laurie Johnson <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         May 4, 2014 at 9:58:11 PM EDT

Subject:    Shakespearean Perceptions – Extension to CFP


Shakespearean Perceptions – Extension to CFP


The convenors of the 12th Biennial International Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Shakespeare Association (ANZSA) are extending the call for papers to 27 June, 2014


Many of our friends in the Shakespeare Association of America only learned of the ANZSA conference during the recent congress in St. Louis, so we have received a significant number of requests for extra time. We will also invite members of the Asian Shakespeare Association (which meets in May this year for the first time) to consider proposing a paper for ANZSA. By extending the CFP to accommodate these groups, we also welcome proposals from any interested participants who may be still wishing to consider presenting at this year’s event.


The ANZSA conference theme is “Shakespearean Perceptions,” and will be held at The University of Southern Queensland from October 2-4, 2014. Confirmed keynotes are Professor Peter Holbrook (University of Queensland), Professor Graham Holderness (Hertfordshire), Emeritus Professor Helen Ostovich (McMaster), and Professor Garrett Sullivan (Pennsylvania).


Shakespeare’s career coincided with a period during which the nature of perception was being radically reimagined. While the rise of the Elizabethan theatre brought with it new configurations of audiences, Elizabethans were learning to view plays—and indeed their world—with fresh eyes but also with fresh noses, fresh ears, fresh skin, etc. This rethinking of sensory perception also resulted in a new understanding of the roles of reason and the imagination in shaping lived experience. Rather than being a phenomenon limited to the work of Shakespeare alone, the reinvention of perception mapped itself out across the whole of the Elizabethan and Jacobean worlds, and is worth tracing in the work of Shakespeare’s coevals (Jonson, Marlowe, Middleton, and many others). By the same token, modern audiences and readers of Shakespearean drama refashion this work according to visual and sensory economies made possible by new technologies and new modes of representation. Topics that may cover this notion of Shakespearean Perceptions may include, but need not be limited to:

  • Shakespearean drama and modes of perception: the senses, passions, embodiment, and medicine;
  • Audiences of Shakespeare in the past and present;
  • Cultural histories of perception and performance;
  • Art and the iconic or emblematic nature of Shakespearean plays;
  • Reinterpretations of Shakespearean drama for the modern stage;
  • Editors and readers of Shakespeare;
  • Modes of cognition and experience in the early modern theatre;
  • Perceptions in Shakespearean drama of classical, medieval, or “New World” ideas and sources;
  • New media and film and adaptations of Shakespeare’s work and that of his contemporaries;
  • Shakespearean drama in translation to non-English-speaking languages;
  • Perceptions of the natural and supernatural worlds;
  • Ways of seeing Shakespeare in political and social contexts.

The conference venue is situated in the picturesque garden city of Toowoomba, located at the edge of the Great Dividing Range in Queensland, Australia. ANZSA 2014 will be held in conjunction with the 11th annual Shakespeare-in-the-Park Festival. Conference registration will include attendance at the opening show of the main stage performance of Much Ado about Nothing.


The conference will include lectures, papers, workshops, seminars, and performances. We invite proposals for papers or presentations (20 minutes), panels (90 minutes), and workshops (90 minutes) on any aspect of the conference theme, broadly interpreted. Proposals (250 words or less) should be sent by 27 June, 2014 to Associate Professor Laurie Johnson or Dr Darryl Chalk by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


More information at. More information at  the conference website:



Associate Professor Laurie Johnson

English and Cultural Studies

School Academic Coordinator (Humanities and Communication)

School of Arts and Communication

Faculty of Business, Education, Law, and Arts

University of Southern Queensland


Events with Stephen Grant, Paul Dickson, David Kastan, Stacy Keach, Edward Gero, and Adam Gopnik

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.228  Monday, 5 May 2014


From:        John F Andrews <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         May 2, 2014 at 1:41:12 PM EDT

Subject:    Events with Stephen Grant, Paul Dickson, David Kastan, Stacy Keach, Edward Gero, and Adam Gopnik


Stephen Grant Portrays the Founders of the Folger Shakespeare Library


Monday, May 12, at 6:30 p.m.

National Arts Club

15 Gramercy Park South, Manhattan

Free and Open to the Public


People are often surprised to learn that the world’s largest repository of Shakespeareana is to be found, not in London or Stratford, but in Washington. How this came to be is the subject of a fascinating new biography by Stephen H. Grant. He tells the remarkable story of Henry and Emily Jordan Folger, a quiet Brooklyn couple who devoted their lives to Collecting Shakespeare. Henry was a close associate of John D. Rockefeller, and he eventually rose to the helm of the Standard Oil Company of New York. But the philanthropic passion that obsessed a major corporation’s most unassuming executive was not to become public till April 23, 1932, when President Hoover presided over a Capitol Hill ceremony at which the Folger Shakespeare Library was presented to the American people. After his conversation with John F. Andrews, a scholar who spent a decade as Director of Academic Programs at the institution the Folgers created, Mr. Grant will sign copies of his book, which will be available for purchase.


Yale’s David Scott Kastan Discusses Shakespeare and Religion


Tuesday, May 13, at 6:30 p.m.

Dicapo Opera Theatre

184 East 76th Street, Manhattan

Members $10, Others $20


David Kastan is the first American to serve as a General Editor of The Arden Shakespeare, a prestigious collection that has been England’s standard-bearer for more than a century. A distinguished professor at Yale University, Mr. Kastan has also won plaudits for his teaching at Dartmouth College and Columbia University. His many publications include Shakespeare and the Shapes of Time (1982), Shakespeare After Theory (1999), and Shakespeare and the Book (2001). Mr. Kastan co-edited Stagng the Renaissance: Essays on Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama (1991), and he is the sole editor of The Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature (2006). For this occasion he’ll focus primarily on A Will to Believe: Shakespeare and Religion (2014), and after he chats with Mr. Andrews and responds to questions from the audience, he’ll be happy to inscribe copies, which will be on hand for those who wish to obtain them.


Paul Dickson Explores the Expressions We Derive From Shakespeare and Other Authors


Wednesday, May 14, at 6:30 p.m.

Dicapo Opera Theatre

184 East 76th Street, Manhattan

Members $10, Others $20


We’ve long known that hundreds of familiar words and phrases originated with Shakespeare. But which ones, and how many? And how much do we owe to writers such as Austen, Chaucer, Scott, and Twain? That is the subject of Authorisms, our latest “dicksonary” from Paul Dickson. Acclaimed for his authoritative Baseball Dictionary, now in its third edition, Mr. Dickson has also treated us to The Congress Dictionary: The Ways and Meanings of Capitol Hill, to Words from the White House, and to Journalese: A Dictionary for Deciphering the News. A former editor for Merriam-Webster, Mr. Dickson has appeared on All Things Considered and other NPR programs, and he was a frequent contributor to the late William Safire’s popular “On Language” column for the New York Times Magazine. His latest volume will be on hand for purchase, and after he talks with Mr. Andrews and addresses comments and queries from those who attend this presentation, he’ll be delighted to sign copies.


Talking about the Henry IV  Plays with Stacy Keach and Edward Gero


Thursday, May 29, at 12:15

Woman’s National Democratic Club

1526 New Hampshire Avenue, Washington

Luncheon & Program $30


As Falstaff in Michael Kahn’s riveting interpretation of Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2, one of America’s most distinguished and versatile actors is returning to a role he first played four decades ago in Central Park. Not only has Stacy Keach earned plaudits in such classics as Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, and Richard III. He has also depicted Lyndon Johnson in Barbara Garson’s Macbird, and LBJ’s White House successor in Frost/Nixon. Meanwhile he is renowned for dozens of television hits, among them his celebrated Mike Hammer series, and for roles in more than seventy films, most recently Nebraska, an Oscar contender for Best Picture. Joining Mr. Keach is Edward Gero, a winner of four Helen Hayes Awards and a nominee for nearly a dozen more.  Mr. Gero is completing a Shakespeare Theatre journey that commenced twenty years ago when he played Bolingbroke to Richard Thomas’ title figure in Richard II. He’ll soon be starring as Justice Scalia in an Arena Stage premiere of The Originalist, a show that could well be bound for Broadway in 2015. After a wide-ranging dialogue with Mr. Andrews, both stars will respond to questions and comments from the audience. And Mr. Keach will be available to sign copies of All in All: An Actor’s Life On and Off the Stage, which will be on hand for purchase.   


Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker  Reflects on Bardic Relics


Monday, June 23, at 6:30 p.m.

National Arts Club

15 Gramercy Park South, Manhattan

Guild Members $10, Others $20


In “The Poet’s Hand,” one of the most riveting and talked-about articles he’s ever written for The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik asks “Why do we still search for relics of the Bard?” It’s an intriguing question, and Mr. Gopnik focuses it on two developments that have the potential to alter our perceptions of a playwright whose works seem just as vibrant and timely today as they were when he was at the peak of his career at the Globe. Best known for Paris to the Moon, a touching account of the years he and his family spent in the City of Light, Mr. Gopnik has also enriched our lives with Americans in Paris and The Table Comes First: France, Family, and the Meaning of Food. One of his recent titles, Angels and Ages: A Short Book about Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life, was hinted at during a National Arts Club conversation with Mr. Andrews in 2008. It’s conceivable that this gathering will feature another preview, relating to a book project that will be taking Mr. Gopnik to London this summer. 


To reserve space for these engagements, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 505-988-9560. If you wish, you may pay at the door for the programs on May 13-14. For more information about these and other Shakespeare Guild offerings, please visit  


John F. Andrews, President

The Shakespeare Guild

5B Calle San Martin

Santa Fe, NM 87506-7536

(505) 988-9560


Bryn Mawr College’s SPT Henry 4 on YouTube

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.224  Friday, 2 May 2014


From:        Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         Friday, May 2, 2014

Subject:    Bryn Mawr College’s SPT Henry 4 on YouTube


Bryn Mawr College Shakespeare Performance Troupe’s Henry 4, Fall 2013.
Directed by Rebecca Cook; Assistant Directed by Libby Wilson. 2:51:33. Now online at YouTube:


World Shakespeare Bibliography Survey

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.223  Friday, 2 May 2014


From:        Laura Estill <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         May 1, 2014 at 4:46:24 PM EDT

Subject:    World Shakespeare Bibliography Survey


Dear Shakespeareans,


The World Shakespeare Bibliography Online ( is looking for your input: please take a five-minute survey to help us better meet your needs.


The survey is here:


The survey will be open until 15 June 2014.


We appreciate your valuable feedback!



Dr. Laura Estill


Assistant Professor of English

Texas A&M University

Editor, World Shakespeare Bibliography


[Editor’s Note: For all those who might not know, Jim Harner has retired and Laura Estill is taking over as Editor of the WSB. Best wishes to both Jim and Laura –Hardy]


Review: Collecting Shakespeare

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 25.221  Thursday, 1 May 2014


From:        Hardy M. Cook <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         Thursday, May 1, 2014

Subject:    Review: Collecting Shakespeare


Stephen H. Grant. Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folger.  Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014. 264 pages. 32 halftones. ISBN: 9781421411873.


The other day I finished Stephen Grant’s Collecting Shakespeare. I enjoyed reading it, particularly about the directors over the years, the behind the scenes bidding wars between Folger and Huntington, the details of the building of the library itself, and the story of Henry and Emily. I especially liked reading about the acquisition of some of the books I have used at the Folger and the dealers and collectors they were purchased from Rosenbach and William White, for example.  The story of the commissioning and building of the Puck statue was also fascinating. I was, however, less interested in how Folger got his wealth than I was in how it was used. 


Nevertheless, we learn in chapter four: “Henry Folger created the wealth to buy Shakespeare in four major ways: a five-decade salary from Standard Oil; investments in the company and its affiliates that generated substantial dividends; careful money management; and a major investment in Magnolia Petroleum Company, which generated very large dividends and a huge profit when it was sold.” We further learn that “It seems incontrovertible, therefore, that this uncharacteristic involvement with Magnolia yielded much, if not most, of the money Folger spent to create his dream, the Shakespeare Library.” In this “murky” involvement, Folger acted as a front for Standard Oil. 


The irony, of course, the a great concentration of wealth is necessary for collecting the books for and building something like the Folger Shakespeare Library or the Mellon National Gallery of Art or Barnes Foundation or . . . the list goes on back to the Italian Renaissance and the days of the pharaohs. I have a deep-seated aversion to capitalism as it is generally practiced in the United States and international economy, but would I not want the pyramids, the Sistine Chapel, or the Folger Library: no. So I am caught in a contradiction.


I do unabashedly love the Folger Shakespeare Library. I have attended performances at the Elizabethan Theater since the late 1970s and have been a reader since the 1980s. I have handled quartos of original printings of the Sonnets (1609) and Lucrece (1594). I have been a participant in a Folger Seminar. I have made discoveries such as when I found a variation in Lucrece that had not been noticed before: “Unnoticed Variant Reading in Q1 Lucrece, 1594. Notes and Queries. 52.2 (June 2005: Vol. 250 of the continuous series): 193-195. I have even donated a book that was appraised at $15,000 to the library: Werff, Adriaen van der, 1659-1722. Historical portraits. [Rotterdam? Reinier Leers? n.d.]. 66 plates (ports.) 38 cm.


Stephen H. Grant’s Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folger provides accounts of interest to lovers of the Folger Library in particular and books in general. It is well worth the read, and I recommend it highly.


On his web site, Grant list ten Folger facts <>:


Ten Cameos from the Folgers’ World

  1. In 1879, Henry and Emily both graduated Phi Beta Kappa from college (Amherst and Vassar). Each needed financial assistance to finish college. None of their parents had ever been to college.
  2. Henry served over forty years as an executive at the Standard Oil Company. John D. Rockefeller called him a “just and good man, tenderly loved by his associates.”
  3. Emily kept a play diary, noting in it details of the 125 Shakespeare performances she saw: elocution, eye contact, mobility of face. Was the play cut? Were costumes historically accurate?
  4. When Henry returned to his Brooklyn home at the end of his work day, Emily handed him the British auction catalogues marked up with her suggestions for Shakespeare items to bid on.
  5. Henry wrote, “I started collecting Shakespeare expecting that it would prove an agreeable recreation; it soon become a delightful hobby, but of late I find it a rather tyrannical master.”
  6. Shakespeare’s “First Folio,” published in 1623, became Henry’s obsession. He acquired 82 copies, about one third of those in existence today. They are all different in some way.
  7. To purchase land on which to build the Library, Folger discreetly bought over a nine-year period fourteen of the most elegant row houses one block from the Capitol.
  8. Before settling on Washington, DC to build the Shakespeare Library, the Folgers considered alternative sites: New York, Chicago, Princeton, Stratford-on-Avon, and even Nantucket.
  9. While the Folger Library is located in the Nation’s capital, it is administered under the auspices of Amherst College, as stipulated in Henry’s will. This came as a surprise to Amherst.
  10. Henry died in 1930. The Folger Shakespeare Library was inaugurated in 1932. President and Mrs. Hoover attended the ceremony. Emily died in 1936.


Other information about the book can be found here:


Subscribe to Our Feeds

Make a Gift to SHAKSPER

Consider making a gift to support SHAKSPER.