The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

How to ask a reference question

Thank you all for your guesses on this month’s Crocodile Mystery. You have proven, once again, that we have the best readers on the internet! Some folks got pretty close to the answer (and I want to give a particular shout out to Elisabeth for her comment of “Number of breakdowns per month, clearly“, which might be a little too on the nose; and to Jane, because her guess of “Consumption of chocolate” is, um, probably accurate!).… Continue Reading


“To the right Wor[shipfu]ll and my very louinge freinde the Lady Powell …”: A 17th Century Letter Collection

a guest post by William Davis Part 1 of 3 Introduction We now have uploaded to our online image database the transcriptions of all the items in X.c.51 (1-46), a small collection of manuscript letters from 1630-60 or so, archived by date. The title of the collection in the online catalog record is, “Autograph letters signed to Lady Mary Powell and her husband Sir Edward Powell, bart.,… Continue Reading

The problems with adapting Coriolanus, and why we should try anyway

a guest post by Mallika Kavadi William Shakespeare’s Coriolanus opens with citizens of Rome “resolved rather to die than to famish,” (Act 1: Scene 1, 3) angered by a resource-hoarding ruling class profiteering off scarcity. Arguably Shakespeare’s most political play or at least the play with the most politically active citizenry, Coriolanus beckons for an interpretation, a more politically charged adaptation in the post-pandemic world of decaying liberal democracies and mass protests.… Continue Reading

Corpse Medicine

a guest post by Bradley Irish Content note: medical cannibalism In the process of writing a book about disgust in Shakespeare’s world and works, I encountered a number of revolting things: the brutal mutilation of condemned criminals, the secret dissection of human corpses in private residences, the festering rot of infectious diseases.  But I was perhaps most fascinated (and made most queasy) to learn about the contemporary practice that modern scholars call corpse medicine: that is, the early modern willingness to use the body parts of once-living people in pharmaceutical compounds that they both prepared and often ingested. … Continue Reading

A Bill of Lading and a Merchant of London (and of Venice)

a guest post by Jonathan Sawday The Folger Shakespeare Library possesses several examples of the document known as the “bill of lading,” the earliest dating from 1623, the others from the later seventeenth century. The 1623 bill of lading in the Folger is a seemingly insignificant sheet of paper. But it has a story to tell. Indirectly, we can connect it to a foundational moment in American history.… Continue Reading