The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

A Sophisticated Leaf

There were several good guesses about this month’s Crocodile Mystery—a crease in the paper, or an off-center, pre-stamped envelope. But, Elisabeth Chaghafi was right on the money with her guess: this is a leaf that was missing a corner, which someone attempted to render “complete” by cutting and pasting the relevant bit from a different copy. In fact, both the fragment used for repair and the torn leaf have a distinguished lineage: they are both fragments from copies of two 1623 editions of Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies.… Continue Reading


Collecting the world in seventeenth-century London

Guest post by Surekha Davies  From at least the sixteenth century, overseas artifacts found their way into European princely and scholarly collections. There they were catalogued, analyzed, and displayed alongside natural and artificial curiosities from classical cameos to blowfish. I am currently at the Folger Shakespeare Library working on a new book project, Collecting Artifacts in the Age of Empire, and thinking through the ways in which collections and collecting practices shaped early modern European attempts to understand human variety around the world.… Continue Reading

Theatrical disturbances and actors behaving badly: what the Drury Lane Prompter’s Journal tells us about nineteenth-century theatrical life

Guest post by Dr. Sarah Burdett What was life like inside the nineteenth-century London theatre? How smoothly did performances run? And how professionally did actors behave? The Drury Lane Prompter’s Journal, 1812-1818, held at the Folger, provides an excellent resource for answering each of these questions. From performances being pulled last minute, to drunkenness during rehearsals, and actresses being shot at on stage, the document is full of juicy and shocking anecdotes which provide fascinating insight into the day-to-day caprices of Georgian theatrical life.… Continue Reading

News, News, News

How do you get your news today? TV? Radio? Printed newspapers? Online news sites? Social media? Today we seem to be inundated by the news 24/7 and it sometimes takes a conscious effort to step away from the barrage. News consumption habits have changed drastically in the last twenty years. But while the speed at which news reaches us may be at unprecedented levels, the multiplicity of delivery methods for the news is nothing—ahem—new.… Continue Reading

Time writing

Chronograms—literally, “time writing”—are dates embedded within text. As such, they are a form of hidden writing called steganography: the encoded characters maintain their own value, but are hidden within a larger text. Easily calculable to those who know what they’re looking for, they still excite the thrill of uncovering secret meaning. That thrill was experienced by this cataloger when, for the first time ever, she came across a chronogram that had been previously unremarked.… Continue Reading

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