The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Posts Categorized: Manuscripts

The Newsy Baronet: how Richard Newdigate (per)used his newsletters

A guest post by Elisabeth Chaghafi Large collections of books or manuscripts may be interesting for two reasons: the actual content of the items they contain, and also what they reveal about the collector who compiled them. The Folger’s Newdigate family collection of newsletters (Folger MS L.c.1-3950) is an excellent example of this. The inclusion of these newsletters in the Shakespeare’s World site has led to the transcription of a large portion of them, which in turn leads to a greater understanding of the collection as a whole.… Continue Reading

All the world and half a dozen lemons

A guest post by Lauren Working Thomas Wood’s 1576 letter to Richard Bagot begins conventionally enough. Wood was sending some artichoke “slips” with his letter, and he begins by describing the optimal way to plant the specimens to guarantee their growth. He accompanies this description with a simple sketch in the margin before turning to news from the Continent, including the story of a Polish duke who had “turned Turk,” or converted to Islam.… Continue Reading

One page, four inscriptions, three households

A guest post by Rebecca Laroche I began transcribing Folger manuscript V.a.681 because I recognized from the dealer’s description the name of a family, the Shirleys, and its house, Staunton Harold; I had previously found another book owned by another female member of that house in my work on women’s ownership of herbals. At first glance, this relatively new acquisition into the Folger’s receipt book collection promises a door into that noble house of the late seventeenth century.… Continue Reading

Accounting for Relationships: the Drury Lane Financial Records

A guest post by Chelsea Phillips With the cherry trees blooming (almost), the sun shining (sometimes), and tax season looming, there is no more delightful time to consider the vagaries of 18th-century theatrical accounting practice. The Folger Shakespeare Library holds a wealth of financial records for the major theatres of 18th- and 19th-century London, and particularly for Drury Lane. Judith Milhous has provided an excellent overview of surviving financial records, and their utility for theatre historians.… Continue Reading

Untangling Lady Day dating and the Julian calendar

Folger X.c.92 (3) is my new favorite manuscript: it’s a letter written in Paris that single-handedly demonstrates the fact that “new style” dates refer to two different calendar modernizations. One modernization has to do with the Christian calendar’s reckoning of “the year of our Lord.” The other relates to the Julian calendar having gradually become ten days behind the seasonal year thanks to its miscalculation that a leap year is needed every four years, no exceptions.… Continue Reading

The Mapper and the Rambler

A guest post by Isaac Stephens Are you a person who makes sure to have all your proverbial ducks in a row, everything meticulously planned out before you engage in a project, make your goals a reality, or depart on a trip? Or rather, are you someone who goes wherever the winds take you, your curiosity and openness to the unexpected prompting you to create things, to reap the rewards of a dream attained, or to traverse the globe?… Continue Reading

Theatrical Bills and Receipts

Folger manuscripts W.b.110 and W.b.111 are an oddly mis-matched pair. W.b.110 is nearly 46cm tall (almost 18 inches, for those playing along at home) and nearly 160 leaves, while W.b.111 is a good 10cm shorter and about a third the length. But both have nearly identical titles in our catalog: “Bills and receipts for the wardrobe, stage properties, writings and printing” (W.b.111 adds that they were “used in productions of Shakespearean and other plays” but the same is true of the contents of W.b.110 as well).… Continue Reading

The Charming Mr. Stoker and the Monster Within

A guest post by Jason McElligott Let me begin with a confession that may not endear me to many friends of the Folger: I don’t enjoy Shakespeare. To be completely honest, I find him hard work. Now, I am not a complete ignoramus. I do understand the importance of his work, and as a teenager studying for school exams there was a brief period when I knew the entirety of Julius Caesar and King Lear off-by-heart.… Continue Reading

Tracing the transmission of medical recipes

A guest post by Elisabeth Chaghafi A lot of early modern recipe books are eclectic compilations that reflect the interests or needs of the people who compiled them. Often they do not even separate between cookery and medical recipes but include a mixture of both. Two examples of such eclectic recipe books in the Folger’s collection are V.a.140 and X.d.469. V.a.140 was compiled in about 1600.… Continue Reading

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