The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Books

Minding the Gaps of Early Modern Drama

A Guest Post by Heidi Craig The history of early modern drama and theatre is punctured with gaps, unknowns, and absences. Over half of the estimated 3,000 professional plays performed before the closure of the theatres in 1642 have evaporated without a trace. About 750 plays endure as only fragments, such as a play title or extract, that point to complete scripts otherwise lost; the number of these lost plays and our knowledge of them continues to grow, thanks to the ongoing work of The Lost Plays Database, edited by Roslyn Knutson, David McInnis and Matthew Steggle, and hosted by the Folger.… Continue Reading

Hexed

This month’s crocodile post asked our readers to think about some interesting designs appearing in and on our books. The first, appearing on the covers of Folger STC 11011 copy 2, are two slightly different designs with a central shape made out of six adjoining loops, surrounded by widening concentric circles. The second is a similar design, but lightly traced on the flyleaf in STC 16878 in pencil.… Continue Reading

The mystery of the Shakespearian cartoons

I first encountered this book three years ago, in 2015. Intrigued by its sparse catalog record, which at that point consisted of a cataloger-supplied title (“[Cartoons based on quotes from Shakespeare]”), an estimated page count, and little more, I went down to the vault to retrieve it. It turned out to be a little volume of, well, cartoons based on quotations from Shakespeare, interpreted in settings humorously far-removed from their original contexts; almost square, with a plain leather binding and some small gilt embellishments bordering the front cover.… Continue Reading

Happy 500th Birthday!

On a recent tour, I was showing a book published in 1518, and mentioned that clearly we were celebrating its 500th birthday by showing it off to a group of very appreciative folks. But that got me thinking—what other books in our collection turn 500 years old this year? 500 is a rather significant number. So let’s take a look at some of the cohort of books in our collection that have been around for half a millenium.… Continue Reading

About that frontispiece portrait of Hannah Woolley….

I was delighted by the range of responses we got for last week’s Crocodile post on the identity of the woman in the engraving: Catherine of Braganza, Cleopatra, Lady Frances Egerton, Elizabeth Nash nee Hall (Shakespeare’s grand-daughter), Hannah Woolley, and Sarah Gilly. The answer: None of the above, and some of the above. Sarah Gilly? Some surviving impressions of this portrait have the inscription “The Effigies of M:trs Sarah Gilly,” as does the one above. … Continue Reading

Under Cover: Forged Bindings on Display at the Folger

Our latest exhibition, Form and Function: the Genius of the Book, provides visitors with a true visual feast. Offering a wide array of different types of bindings from the Folger collections, exhibition attendees will learn about the techniques and materials historically used to cover books and make them functional objects. I’m fascinated by the internal structure of the sewing, but am forced to admit that my favorite part of this exhibition is the decoration on the covers.… Continue Reading

Written in the Margent: Frances Wolfreston Revealed

A guest post by Sarah Lindenbaum “And what obscured in this fair volume lies / Find written in the margent of his eyes” (Romeo and Juliet, 1.3.87–88) Recently, two Shakespeare quartos held by the Folger Shakespeare Library were determined to likely be from the library of early modern reader Frances Wolfreston. The books themselves—copy 4 of the fifth quarto of Romeo and Juliet (1637) and a 1636 edition of Venus and Adonis—have been digitized through LUNA and are meticulously cataloged.… Continue Reading

A Pamphlet War in England, 1641-1643

A guest post by Brittney Washington Since my time as the 2017-2018 Nadia Sophie Seiler Rare Materials Resident is quickly approaching an end, I’ve been taking some time to look back on what I’ve learned about the amazing collection here at the Folger Shakespeare Library. My work focused specifically on cataloging printed materials found in the Wing bibliography (known formally as Short title catalogue of books printed in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and British America, and of English books printed in other countries, 1641-1700).… Continue Reading

Engraved to Sell

Printed ephemera can be exciting, especially when it reveals information that can be found nowhere else. When it is also a very rare piece with only a couple of extant copies recorded, and its design is intriguing, the discovery is even more interesting. I was thus thrilled when, following a tip from a colleague, I found in the Folger stacks this small seventeenth-century engraved print containing information on where in London one could subscribe to John Ogilby’s English Atlas.… Continue Reading

On looking into Chapman’s Homer once again

A guest post by Jessica Wolfe If the name George Chapman rings a bell, it is likely because you once read John Keats’s 1816 sonnet, “On first looking into Chapman’s Homer,” which describes the Romantic poet’s experience of reading Chapman’s translation of Homer for the first time. I have spent the past eight months conducting research for the first full-length biography of Chapman (ca.… Continue Reading

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