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Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folger
     

Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folger

by Stephen H. Grant
 

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ISBN-10: 1421411873

ISBN-13: 9781421411873

Pub. Date: 03/25/2014

Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press

In Collecting Shakespeare, Stephen H. Grant recounts the American success story of Henry and Emily Folger of Brooklyn, a couple who were devoted to each other, in love with Shakespeare, and bitten by the collecting bug.

Shortly after marrying in 1885, the Folgers started buying, cataloging, and storing all manner of items about Shakespeare and his era.

Overview

In Collecting Shakespeare, Stephen H. Grant recounts the American success story of Henry and Emily Folger of Brooklyn, a couple who were devoted to each other, in love with Shakespeare, and bitten by the collecting bug.

Shortly after marrying in 1885, the Folgers started buying, cataloging, and storing all manner of items about Shakespeare and his era. Emily earned a master's degree in Shakespeare studies. The frugal couple worked passionately as a tight-knit team during the Gilded Age, financing their hobby with the fortune Henry earned as president of Standard Oil Company of New York, where he was a trusted associate of John D. Rockefeller Sr.

While a number of American universities offered to house the collection, the Folgers wanted to give it to the American people. Afraid the price of antiquarian books would soar if their names were revealed, they secretly acquired prime real estate on Capitol Hill near the Library of Congress. They commissioned the design and construction of an elegant building with a reading room, public exhibition hall, and the Elizabethan Theatre. The Folger Shakespeare Library was dedicated on the Bard's birthday, April 23, 1932.

The library houses 82 First Folios, 275,000 books, and 60,000 manuscripts. It welcomes more than 100,000 visitors a year and provides professors, scholars, graduate students, and researchers from around the world with access to the collections. It is also a vibrant center in Washington, D.C., for cultural programs, including theater, concerts, lectures, and poetry readings.

The library provided Grant with unprecedented access to the primary sources within the Folger vault. He draws on interviews with surviving Folger relatives and visits to 35 related archives in the United States and in Britain to create a portrait of the remarkable couple who ensured that Shakespeare would have a beautiful home in America.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781421411873
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
03/25/2014
Pages:
264
Product dimensions:
8.80(w) x 6.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

Prologue ix

Acknowledgments xv

1 Well Read in Poetry, Fair in Knowledge: Henry and Emily Form a Team 1

2 Thou Lovest Me, My Name Is Will: Smitten by Shakespeare 27

3 Wise, Circumspect, and Trusted: Five Decades at Standard Oil 43

4 Leading on to Fortune: Henry Invests to Buy the Bard 65

5 The Hunt Is Up, the Fields Are Fragrant: Building a Collection 75

6 Whole Volumes in Folio: The Ultimate Prize for Collectors 95

7 What News on the Rialto: Maneuvers in the Rare Book Market 108

8 Hotspur and Hal: Two Henrys Compete 125

9 A Monument to Gentle Verse: Designing a Treasure House 139

10 Dear, Blessed Plot of Land: The Folgers' Gift to America 163

Epilogue: Praise in the Eyes of Posterity: The Folger after the Folgers 187

Appendix: Directors of the Folger Shakespeare Library 207

Notes 209

Bibliography 225

Index 235

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