Folger Shakespeare Library: Shakespeare’s Birthday and More



The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.154  Thursday, 12 April 2012

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

Date:         Wednesday, 11 Apr 2012 15:54:00 -0400

Subject:     Folger Shakespeare Library: Shakespeare’s Birthday and More


What’s On at the Folger


Mirth and Merriment

Special Events: Shakespeare’s Birthday Open House


It’s April, the month we welcome spring at the Folger and celebrate Shakespeare. Enjoy music, games, and more during our annual Shakespeare’s Birthday Open House! Children and adults can participate in free crafts and activities, take to the Folger stage for spontaneous Shakespeare performances, and explore the Folger’s historic building. During the closing festivities, all are welcome to share birthday cake on the front lawn.


Sunday, April 22

Noon to 4:00 pm



Discover Shakespeare: Shakespeare’s Life

Listen: Songs Inspired by Shakespeare



Tales of Innocence

Shakespeare’s Birthday Lecture


Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale offers a fascinating glimpse into childhood. Young Prince Mamillius, who haunts the play even after his death, provides a lens for exploring critical themes. The annual Shakespeare’s Birthday Lecture by Sarah Beckwith deals with questions of initiation, inheritance, innocence, truth, and doubt.


Plus, view images from Folger Theatre’s 2009 production of The Winter’s Tale on Flickr.


Monday, April 16, 2012

7:30 pm



Get a Seat: Reserve Online

On Flickr: Images from The Winter’s Tale



A Trace of Shakespeare

In the News: Restored Scribble May be Shakespeare Signature


Could this be Shakespeare's signature? Probably not, but researchers are investigating when and how a mysterious signature on the title page of Archaionomia, a treatise on Anglo-Saxon law in the Folger collection, first appeared on the page's top border. Using multi-spectral imaging technology, the researchers are studying images not visible to the human eye to compare the signature to other known Shakespeare signatures—as well as those of well-known forgers.


For a detailed look at the digital imaging process, read the post by guest contributor Roger Easton of Rochester Institute of Technology on The Collation blog.


Blogworthy: Spectral Imaging of Shakespeare’s “Seventh Signature” 



[Editor’s Note: I would encourage readers to look at the “Spectral Imaging of Shakespeare’s “Seventh Signature” cited above. Further, at the SHAKSPER web site, in the Scholarly Resources, Pedagogy section, I discuss in my first Cook’s Tour how to access the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Digital Image Collection which contains William Lambarde’s Archaionomia, the work in which the signature is found. In addition to your being able to read the how-to instructions article online at, you can download a pdf version of it below. Once you have the Luna software installed, you are able to examine the page yourselves by continuing to zoom-in on the image. Actually, quite fun. –Hardy]


Cook’s Tour One:  Cook Tour One (116.13 kB)


From Shakespeare’s Sisters to Birthday Sonnets and the Making of Dictionaries


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.153  Thursday, 12 April 2012


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

Date:         Wednesday, 11 Apr 2012 17:20:13 -0600

Subject:    From Shakespeare’s Sisters to Birthday Sonnets and the Making of Dictionaries 



GEORGIANNA ZIEGLER & ‘Shakespeare’s Sisters’

MONDAY, APRIL 16, at 8:00 p.m.  

NATIONAL ARTS CLUB, 15 Gramercy Park South, Manhattan

No Admission Charge, but Reservations Requested


In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf lamented that if Shakespeare had “had a wonderfully gifted sister, called Judith,” she would never have been able to develop her talents and achieve success in the way her famous brother did. Perhaps so. But in Edward Rothstein’s enthusiastic February 24 New York Times review of “Shakespeare’s Sisters: Voices of English and European Writers, 1500-1700” (, an exhibition at the Folger Shakespeare Library on Capitol Hill that closes May 20, we learn that there were dozens of “women from Britain, France, and Italy, many of them celebrated in their own time,” whose brilliant careers prove that Ms. Woolf was unduly melancholy. The curator who organized this show is GEORGIANNA ZIEGLER, who oversees the Folger’s reference department and occupies a post that has been endowed by Louis B. Thalheimer. A former president of the Shakespeare Association of America, Dr. Ziegler spent a decade at the University of Pennsylvania’s renowned Furness Library before she moved to Washington in 1992. Her previous exhibitions have introduced viewers to “Shakespeare’s Unruly Women,” to “Elizabeth I, Then and Now,” to “Shakespeare for Children,” and to “Marketing Shakespeare: The Boydell Gallery (1789-1805) and Beyond.” Dr. Ziegler’s engaging conversation with the SHAKESPEARE GUILD’s John Andrews will be illustrated with portraits of notable female authors of the early-modern period and with images from many of their publications.   


Discount Tickets for CSC’s ‘DREAM’ Production


CLASSIC STAGE COMPAMY, 136 East 13th Street, Manhattan

Regularly $75 Tuesday-Thursday, $80 Friday-Sunday


Under the direction of Tony Speciale, the CLASSIC STAGE COMPANY is now presenting A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM in a production that stars Bebe Neuwirth and Christina Ricci and features Jordan Dean, Nick Gehlfuss, David Greenspan, Halley Wegryn Gross, Anthony Heald, Erin Hill, Chad Lindsey, Taylor Mac, James Patrick Nelson, Steven Skybell, and Rob Yang. For details visit, and for the $49.50 discounted SHAKESPEARE GUILD price for tickets that are usually $75 on weekdays and $80 on weekends, proceed to and enter code MIDSGUILD. You may also take advantage of this special offer by visiting the Box Office at 136 East 13th Street (between Third and Fourth Avenues) or by calling either 212-352-3101 or 866-811-4111. 


A Festive Shakespeare’s Birthday SONNET SLAM 

MONDAY, APRIL 23, Beginning at 1:00 p.m. 


Free and Open to the Public


WILLFUL PICTURES, an organization headed by Melinda Hall (a director, teacher, and filmmaker who is producing a documentary in which luminaries such as F. Murray Abraham, Robert Brustein, Stacy Keach, and Sir Ben Kingsley talk about how Shakespeare changed their lives), is presenting its second annual SHAKESPEARE’S BIRTHDAY SONNET SLAM at the beautiful Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park. Come rain or shine, 154 presenters will recite all 154 of the playwright’s immortal lyrics. For details, see    


SHAKESPEARE WEEK at New York Public Library


STEPHEN A. SCHWARZMAN BUILDING, Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street

Free and Open to the Public


Jay Barksdale of the NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY has arranged an enticing assortment of activities for the week when Shakespeare’s birthday is traditionally celebrated. Among other things, there will be a master class for young actors, a display of Elizabethan maps and treasures such as the 1623 First Folio of the playwright’s dramatic works, some recitations by talented actors and actresses, and a series of orations and presentations by key writers and scholars. At 1:15 p.m. on Monday, April 23, for example, Robert Armitage (Humanities Bibliographer at the Library) will talk about Shakespeare: From Stratford-upon-Avon to the New York Public Library. At the same time on Tuesday, April 24, Margaret Mikesell Tabb (Professor of English at John Jay College, CUNY) will discuss Fathers and Sons in HAMLET. On Wednesday, April 25, Linda Neiberg (Graduate Center, CUNY) will explore ways of Marmorializing the Dead in ROMEO AND JULIET, OTHELLO, and THE WINTER’S TALE. On Thursday, April 26, Andras Kisery (City College of New York) will focus on Hamlet and the Ambassadors. And on Friday, April 27, Barry Nass (Hofstra University) will connect The Parable of the Good Samaritan and THE TAMING OF THE SHREW. All of these events are free of charge and are open to the public. For additional information see              


JESSE SHEIDLOWER, Editor at Large for the OED     

TUESDAY, MAY 22, at 8:00 p.m.  

NATIONAL ARTS CLUB, 15 Gramercy Park South, Manhattan

No Admission Charge, but Reservations Requested


JESSE SHEIDLOWER is President-Elect of the American Dialect Society and Editor at Large for the prestigious Oxford English Dictionary. He recently published a revised edition of The F-Word, his classic survey of an expletive that has become so mainstream in recent years that it has now lost much of its initial power to shock. Mr. Sheidlower has been a guest on such programs as 60 Minutes and Charlie Rose, and he was a prominent talking head in Robert MacNeil’s PBS series Do You Speak American? Mr. Sheidlower has written for The Atlantic, Esquire, Food & Wine, Harper’s, Lingua Franca, New York, The New York Times, and Playboy, and his website,, a trove of blogs and articles about virtually every aspect of our fascinating language. During a wide-ranging discussion with the SHAKESPEARE GUILD’s John Andrews, he’ll explore how dictionaries evolve with the times. Among other things, he’ll talk about changing attitudes to words that relate to sex, bodily functions, and other controversial topics. He and Mr. Andrews will also examine how today’s social norms have altered the way audiences respond to wordplay and innuendo that either offended or went unnoticed by Victorian readers, but which Shakespeare and his contemporaries considered pertinent and amusing.  


For more information about these and other programs, among them a new CENTENNIAL FRIDAYS series at the St. Francis Auditorium in Santa Fe’s New Mexico Museum of Art, visit the website below and take a look at the Current Events page.


John F. Andrews

The Shakespeare Guild

5B Calle San Martin       

Santa Fe, NM 87506

Phone 505 988 9560      


Notice Regarding New Variorum Shakespeare


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.152  Thursday, 12 April 2012


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

Date:         April 12, 2012 11:16:54 AM EDT

Subject:     Notice Regarding New Variorum Shakespeare


A New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare


The following editors of volumes in progress for A New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare are seeking assistant editors:


Maurice Hunt, Baylor University: Cymbeline


Joseph Porter, Duke University: Othello


James Schiffer, SUNY New Paltz: Twelfth Night


William Proctor Williams, University of Akron: Titus Andronicus



The publisher of this series is the Modern Language Association of America. Title pages and prefaces scrupulously record the contributions of all who work on the volumes. Editorial principles are available at  Please contact Paul Werstine, co-general editor, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. The latest published volumes in the series are The Winter’s Tale, edited by Robert Kean Turner and Virginia Westling Haas (2005), and The Comedy of Errors, edited by Standish Henning (2011). King Lear, edited by Richard Knowles, is at press.


Jeanne Roberts


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.151  Thursday, 12 April 2012


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

Date:         April 10, 2012 7:03:49 PM EDT

Subject:    Jeanne Roberts 


Jeanne A. Roberts (CC ‘04), a founder of the Cosmos Club Shakespeare Discussion Group and a former president of the Shakespeare Association of America, died April 3 at her home after a long battle with cancer.


A memorial service and reception will be held April 12, Thursday, at 11:30 a.m. in St. Columba’s Episcopal Church, 4201 Albemarle St. N.W, just off Wisconsin Avenue.


Bill Day

Communications Officer

The Shakespeare Group


VU-ing STM’s D & LLL


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.150  Tuesday, 10 April 2012


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

Date:         April 6, 2012 7:24:39 PM EDT

Subject:     VU-ing STM’s D & LLL


In Shakespeare’s day the letters v and u were graphically interchanged in a holdover system whereby words beginning with either letter were spelled with an initial v; either medial letter got a u.


Most representations of these texts are modernized, though it isn’t hard to apply contextual fixes the same way readers did then. Nowadays we prefer photos to ‘old-spelling’ texts that aren’t—evidence should not be altered. Might that precept extend to UV protection?


Printers kept to the system for some time, perhaps in part because their type-supply had too few v’s for medial massaging. But manuscript evidence is an order of magnitude greater (for inference) and writing practice wasn’t consistent. Can writers be differentiated by u/v usage?


I’ve looked at transcriptions of various hands associated with Sir Thomas More. S (Munday), A (Chettle) and B (perhaps Heywood, probably not) all use u for medial v. E (Dekker) uses medial v five words to one (haue). C (the ‘functionary’) invariably writes v for medial v (and v initially for either letter, as do the others). Two Chettle medial u’s are altered to v, which Greg does not attribute to a different hand, but I wonder if another (C?) made the changes.


These habits (which may change over time) are personal. Chettle & Munday were in the print trade; it would be surprising if they didn’t conform. B, the wildest (phonetic) speller, conforms. C never varies from medial v, which may tell against his identity with D (as some have thought possible), whose habit (if any, in 3-D pages) is quite different from the rest:


‘Dvng’, as in dvngheap. Medial v for u is hard to figvre & not qvick to vnivmble; ‘[Mv] nvmber’. How unusual this is for the time, I can’t say; it’s not unprecedented, however.


By my count (having little else to do, I reckon) D uses 18 medial ‘u for v’ (8 ‘haue’) and 17 ‘v for v’: ‘Shreiue’, ‘shreeve’; ‘even’, ‘euen’. Is it possible that Shakespeare, of all people, had not settled on a way to write a vee sound? I don’t think so. Others insist, of course; that’s the kind of thing one accepts when accepting Hand D as Shakespeare’s. I contend that D was a copyist, for a number of good reasons. If that is so, we can relieve Shakespeare of the bumpkinization of D’s text. Why saddle Shakespeare with nonsense—if it’s nonsense?


What might the copyist have been copying? I’ve noticed some clues that may not seem meaningful. “Doesn’t mean a thing” doesn’t mean a thing to me because things have a way of piling up. Jowett observes in his Arden 3 whitewash some “remarkably distinctive” spellings:


“’Iarman’ . . . as a spelling of ‘German’ is elsewhere in drama exampled only in 2 Henry IV and the manuscript play John of Bordeaux, written by Greene, who was dead by the time the revisions of [STM] were composed” (442).


Something of a Greene Herring (yuk!) I think. Bordox is not in Greene’s hand and certainly not in his spelling. Jowett had cited “McMillin’s and Taylor’s proposed dating of the revisions in 1603 or after . . .” (438). But McMillin argued specifically (and well) that D’s addition dated to the early ‘90’s (Bordox-duty-time); the question remains open, despite the press-gang enlistment of McMillin.


“Hand D spells ‘eleven pence’ as ‘a levenpence’ . . . . Moreover, and more striking still, the full ‘a leuenpence’ is found in [LLL] . . .” Further moreover, Jowett notes that the “u/v distinction is incidental” (442).


By ‘incidental’ Jowett must mean that nothing can be made of the u/v distinction, in contradistinction of the ‘remarkable distinctions.’ But is that so? In his Arden 3 LLL, Woudhuysen (an even-handed scholar), remarks of possible authorial spellings (including ‘a leuen’) that the evidence “that these are distinctive Shakespearean forms is on the whole weak” (318). One of his points is that “More striking forms” in LLL are not found in other texts presumed from authorial copy. Among these are ‘hou’ (ho), ‘smothfast’ (smooth-faced), and ‘rescewes’. If we insist this play is good evidence for Hand D, we may with better result cite Bordox, whose Scribe can’t be outdone: ‘hou’, ‘mapellfast matrone’, and the beautiful ‘rescqe’.


So how does Hand D compare to Burdiox? First, its scribe (S; I’ll call him Sunday, since S is for Munday) is a phonetic speller who conforms to orthodox word forms by a rough osmosis:


       Ill teach yow how to Iest with Iarmayne vandermast


       pre the be [sagde] sadg [I] it often comes to pass that he

       which most presumes will prove a nasse


Sunday habitually uses medial v for v, and sometimes a medial v for u: ‘provd’ (proud). He also separates ‘a’ from the rest of a word, as he does with ‘be’ (‘be hould’) or not (‘betuwne’); and ‘in’ (‘in cappable’). LLL has ‘my none’ (mine own), analogous to ‘a nasse’, ‘my nies’, and other Bordox usage.


Now, Sunday had his reasons: he was virtually illiterate in transcription but masterful in his element—rapid phonetic writing: a, b, in, my, i, of, the (thee, thy, they) were written instantaneously. These were part of his art (and stock in secret trade).


How and why did Shakespeare come to spell like Sunday? No one was more cappable; he had no reason to exhibit the traits described. Yet one Bordox manuscript text, wearing a rationale on its sleeve, easily accounts for the traits. It needn’t even appeal to OED’s, REED’s, or your acronym of choice; these spellings happened by method and chance together. Sunday spelt ‘one’ (own) and ‘my’ (mine); all he needed for ‘my none’ was the sound. The same for ‘a leven’. The number doesn’t occur in Bordox, but it could have been so represented, especially since the scribe’s habit was the medial v.


In the passage above, ‘I’ is deleted and replaced by ‘it’. The indication is that one sign (for one letter) served multiple functions; the scribe corrected his own transcription. Anyone copying such text would normalize it to a greater extent, but in that phonetic day much would come through as it does in LLL. Is that text a report? Sure it is.


Why does a brilliant and learned play exhibit otherwise crazy spellings? Why is there confusion after confusion in speech headings? Because Shakespeare’s foul papers couldn’t keep up? No, that’s what happens to reports.


Might STM be reported? If it is, a lot of the mystery may be reconciled, along with the scholarship. I’ve been thinking about it.


Gerald E. Downs


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