Category Archives: Book talks

Steve Grant’s First Folio Tour

This year, in honor of the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare (on April 23, 1616), the Folger Shakespeare Library has organized an extraordinary tour of First Folios from the Folger collection to all fifty states.  Steve Grant, author of our widely-admired Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folger, has undertaken an similarly ambitious speaking schedule that will take him to several of the hosting libraries, museums, and institutions participating in the tour.  We’ve invited Steve to provide regular updates as he follows the First Folios around the country, speaking about their important literary and cultural history the extraordinary legacy of Henry and Emily Folger.

Guest post by Stephen H. Grant

Steve March 1

On display in the New Mexico Museum of Art during February, 2016, Shakespeare’s First Folio open to the “To Be or Not To Be” speech in Hamlet.

Partnering with St. Johns College in Santa Fe, the New Mexico Museum of Art won the competition to host the First Folio Exhibition from February 5 to February 28, 2016. While the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC––only two blocks from the U.S. Capitol––required that host institutions organize at least FOUR events during the exhibit, the Museum arranged FORTY events.

One event was the Shakespeare Treasure Hunt. Youngsters picked up a free treasure map and followed clues based on quotations from the Bard that led them downtown to declaim the lines to local merchants. Visitors from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art put on a workshop on the breath, sound, and articulation on Shakespeare’s sonnets, including practice in reading Shakespeare out loud. The Museum organized a day of love and art where participants created cards, heart ornaments, and Valentine’s Day collages inspired by Shakespeare.

Steve March 2

Director of the Palace Press at New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe, Tom Leech, demonstrates a wooden hand press like those used in early 17th century England.

Of all the First Folio Exhibit venues, New Mexico is the only state where a government was operating when Shakespeare was alive and writing The Tempest. Across the street from the New Mexico Museum of Art is the New Mexico History Museum, created in 1610 as Palace of the Governors, when Spain established its seat of government in Santa Fe to cover what is now the American southwest. It is the oldest continuously occupied building in the United States. Award-winning Palace Press printers Tom Leech and James Bourland mounted a multi-part exhibit where they printed facsimiles of a First Folio page using a replica Gutenberg wooden hand press. Visitors were invited to make their own prints to take home.

Steve March 4

Steve Grant outside New Mexico Museum of Art before his talk to 200 enthusiastic Shakespeare addicts.

In Conversation with John F. Andrews, President of the Shakespeare Guild, I spoke in St. Francis Auditorium on Collecting Shakespeare and the First Folio to 200 Shakespeare enthusiasts come from the area to catch a glimpse of the First Folio on display in an adjacent room and opened to the “To Be or Not To Be” soliloquy from Hamlet. The Shakespeare Society bid adieu to the First Folio on February 28 by performing familiar farewell scenes from Shakespeare.

Stephen H. Grant is the author of Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folgerpublished by Johns Hopkins. He is a senior fellow at the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training and the author of Peter Strickland: New London Shipmaster, Boston Merchant, First Consul to Senegal. We expect Steve’s next report on the First Folio tour after he speaks in San Diego on June 22 the San Diego Public Library.


April 15, Noon
The Association of the Oldest Inhabitants of D.C.
Capitol Skyline Hotel, 10 I St., SW, Washington, D.C. 20024

Steve March 3

Tom Leech designed and printed this “WANTED Willy the Kid” poster displayed in many Santa Fe store windows during the residence of the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Shakespeare First Folio.

April 18, 10:30 am – noon
Live & Learn Bethesda Talk
4805 Edgemoor Ln, Bethesda, MD 20814

June 21, 11:00 am
Calvary Presbyterian Church Seniors Program Talk
2515 Fillmore St. San Francisco, CA 94115

June 22, 6:30 pm
San Diego Public Library Talk
330 Park Blvd., San Diego CA 92101

June 23, 6:00 pm
San Francisco Public Library Talk
Main Library, Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin St, San Francisco CA 94102

September 29, 6:30 pm
Cathedral West Condominiums Talk
4100 Cathedral Ave. NW, Washington DC, 20016



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Filed under Book talks, Libraries, Literature, Shakespeare

Don’t miss the reading by John Irwin & Wyatt Prunty on Thursday, February 25

The Johns Hopkins University Writing Seminars will host a reading by two long-time friends and JHU Press authors, John Irwin and Wyatt Prunty, on Thursday, February 25, at 6:30 p.m.  The reading, reception, and book signing take place in Gilman Hall, Room 50, on JHU’s Homewood campus.  The event is free and open to the public; find more information on the Writing Seminars website.

bricuthJohn Irwin has been an extraordinary friend and partner to JHU Press over many decades, publishing six scholarly books with us under his own name; three volumes of poetry under his pen name, John Bricuth; editing some 97 volumes in the distinguished series, Johns Hopkins: Poetry & Fiction, on behalf of the Press and the Writing Seminars; relaunching the literary journal, The Hopkins Review, in 2008; and serving as the intrepid cheer-leader, fundraiser, and inspiration for all these projects.  We extend boundless thanks and good wishes to John, who retired last year as Decker Professor of the Humanities at JHU.  He will be reading from and signing copies of his (John Bricuth’s) latest volume of poetry, Pure Products of America. Inc.

pruntyWyatt Prunty is a professor of English at Sewanee: The University of the South and the founding director of the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. He is the author of nine collections of poems (eight published with JHUP), including Unarmed and DANGEROUS and The Lover’s Guide to Trapping. He will be reading from and signing copies his  latest collection from JHUP, Couldn’t Prove, Had to Promise.





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Filed under Book talks, Literature, Poetry, Poetry, Press Events, Writing

First Folio, the book that gave us Shakespeare: On tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library in 2016

Guest post by Stephen H.Grant

Johns Hopkins University Press released Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folger on the Ides of March in 2014, the 450th anniversary of the Bard’s birth.  In 2016, the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the most famous and valuable Shakespeare volume––the 1623 First Folio––is on tour to all 50 American states plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico.  Eighteen of the 82 copies of the First Folio that Henry Folger purchased are traveling. The institutional hosts were selected after a competitive process marked by 140 inquiries, 101 completed applications, and winning proposals from 23 museums, 20 universities, five public libraries, three historical societies, and one theater. The University of Notre Dame in Indiana opened the First Folio tour on January 4, 2016 and The Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee will close the tour on January 2, 2017. This link to the Folger gives the information about where and when the rare volume will be displayed.

The tour is an ambitious, complicated, and unprecedented project, made possible in part through the sponsorship of the National Endowment for the Humanities and The Folger Library’s partners in organizing it are the Cincinnati Museum Center and the American Library Association.

Grant feb Image 1 First Folio Open

A 1623 Shakespeare First Folio open to the title-page and Ben Jonson’s preface.

What is a folio? The word “folio” is a printer’s term, referring to the size of the page, approximately 9 by 13 inches. (A folio-size paper folded in half, is called a “quarto.”) When Shakespeare’s plays were printed individually, they appeared in quarto. When all his plays were posthumously published, they appeared in folio. The First Folio of 1623 is the sole source for half of Shakespeare’s dramatic production. Eighteen of his plays (including Macbeth, Julius Caesar, The Tempest, and As You Like It) had never been printed before and would probably be unknown today without this early compilation. They were offered to the public unbound, with pages uncut. Due to the large-size format of the volume, and the quality of the handmade sheets of rag paper imported from northern France, the sales price was high for the times. While attending the play cost one shilling six pence; the cost of this prestigious book was one pound (twenty shillings), or the equivalent of buying forty loaves of bread. By comparison, Sotheby’s in London sold a First Folio in 2006 for 2.8 million pounds, or the equivalent of buying 125 new automobiles.

Grant Feb Image 2 To Be Speech

A 1623 Shakespeare First Folio open to the Hamlet soliloquy, “To be or not to be.” At every location on the tour, the First Folio will be open to this page.

The First Folio is the most coveted secular book in the English language and one of the most important books in the world. Shakespearean scholars consider it to be the most authentic version of the Bard’s dramatic output. The original print run was about 750 copies. Only 233 copies of the First Folio are known to exist today. Why did Mr. Folger seek to acquire as many copies as he could? Every hand-printed book is unique. In the 17th century, with hand-set type, sometimes a letter wore out and was replaced. Spelling was not standardized. As many as nine typesetters or compositors worked on the First Folio in the printing shop with idiosyncrasies such that experts can identify which compositor worked on which copy. Many of the copies have marginalia (words, phrases, poems, drawings) added in the margins by avid readers over the centuries. Some assertive readers considered that they could improve upon the Bard’s English and crossed out his words and inserted their own!


I will next report on the First Folio tour after speaking at two events in Santa Fe later this month. My major Folger talks for the remainder of this year are:

New Mexico Museum of Art Talk Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 at 2 PM

Reception by Friends of the Santa Fe Public Library, Feb. 20, 2016 5:30 – 7:30 PM

Stanford University Book Store Talk Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016 at 6 PM

Marin County Book Passage Talk Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016 at 7:00 PM

The Homestead, Hot Springs, Va. Talk Saturday, Mar. 12 at 4 PM

San Diego Public Library Talk Wednesday, June 22, 2016 at 6:30 PM
330 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101

San Francisco Public Library Talk Thursday, June 23, 2016 at 6 PM
Main Library Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin St.
San Francisco, CA 94102

grant.collectingStephen H. Grant is the author of Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folgerpublished by Johns Hopkins University Press. He is a senior fellow at the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training and the author of Peter Strickland: New London Shipmaster, Boston Merchant, First Consul to Senegal.

Use promo code “HDPD” to receive a 30% discount when you order your copy of Collecting Shakespeare.

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Filed under American Studies, Biography, Book talks, Libraries, Literature, Shakespeare

Rebecca Seib and Mott Greene speak at the Johns Hopkins Club, November 3 & 4

Next week, JHU Press will host two special programs in our lunch and lecture series at the Johns Hopkins Club on the university’s Homewood campus. Descriptions are below, along with links to more information about the books and authors. Reservations are required, and the cost is $20 per person for each lunch and talk. Books will be for sale before and after the programs, and the authors will be signing copies. Hopkins Club members may contact the Club to make a reservation; non-members may arrange to attend by contacting Jack Holmes at JHU Press at 410-516-6928 or

seibMDHSNovember 3 / 12:30 p.m.
Lunch & Lecture: “Indians of Southern Maryland
with MdHS author Rebecca Seib

An important new book from the Maryland Historical Society Press tells the story of Southern Maryland’s Native people from the end of the Ice Age to the present. Rebecca Seib, a cultural anthropologist and one of the book’s authors, joins us to explore this remarkable history of human and environmental change, adaptation and survival, and the surprising truths beyond the stereotypes.

Read more about the book here. Rebecca’s coauthor, Helen Rountree, discussed the book on WYPR earlier this year.

Rebecca Seib is an applied anthropologist and has worked with Indian people throughout the United States for over 30 years. She has assisted Indian communities in rebuilding their economies in a culturally appropriate manner.

greeneNovember 4 / 12:30 p.m.
Lunch & Lecture: “Alfred Wegener: Science, Exploration, and the Theory of Continental Drift
with JHU Press author Mott Greene

Written with great immediacy and descriptive skill, Mott Greene’s new biography of Alfred Wegener is a powerful portrait of the scientist who discovered continental drift and pioneered the modern notion of unified Earth science. Wegener deserves to be much better known, and Prof. Greene (a MacArthur fellow and award-winning historian of science) joins us to tell a fascinating story of a wonderfully adventurous life and the ongoing impact of one of the great minds of modern science.

Read more about the book and watch a video with Mott here. Read an amazing review of the book in the journal Nature.

Mott T. Greene is an affiliate professor of earth and space sciences at the University of Washington and John Magee Professor of Science and Values emeritus at the University of Puget Sound. He is the author of Geology in the Nineteenth Century: Changing View of a Changing World and Natural Knowledge in Preclassical Antiquity.



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Filed under American History, Biography, Book talks, Cultural Studies, History of science, Regional-Chesapeake Bay

Mr. Crabcake on (what else?) crab cakes

Guest post by John Shields

A highlight of the Baltimore Book Festival this weekend will surely be chef John Shields’ discussion of his charming new book from JHU Press, Chesapeake Bay Cooking with John Shields, 25th anniversary edition (on Saturday at 12:30 p.m., at the Food for Though Stage). And if you have any doubts as to his qualifications to be the one-and-only “Mr. Crabcake,” read this wonderful excerpt from his book.

shieldsCrab Cakes

Paris may have its foie gras, New Orleans its gumbo, and Spain its paella, but the folks living along the shores and far-reaching tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay have their own signature dish: the crab cake. No dish is more closely associated with the Chesapeake and the blue crab than the mighty crab cake.

When asked to describe their aquatic culinary prize, locals are hard-pressed to come up with a concise description. “Well, hon, it ain’t a confection, and you don’t normally bake them, and sure ain’t a dee-sert . . . naa . . . it’s not exactly made in a cake pan either . . . well . . . oh hell, it’s more like a ball of crab all spiced up and fried.”

Now the crab cake may well be a unifying source of fierce regional pride, but its many recipes produce more squabbling, feuding, and heated family debates than either the local ball club or politics. Tucked away in each family’s archives is The Crab Cake Recipe. It is the only one; it is the best; and all the others are wrong. Period. I’ve witnessed barroom brawls over which restaurant or tavern serves the best crab cake. Research on the ubiquitous cake provides tremendous pleasure for the stomach, but is, all in all, a dangerous business.

Shields_cooking_1The Chesapeake crab cake has been a staple of the local diet dating back to at least the sixteenth century. Crab cakes were made by local Indian women who mixed the crabmeat with herbs, vegetables, and cornmeal, forming them into small cakes that were fried in sizzling hot bear fat. They were called “cakes of crab.” The preparation technique has changed only slightly over the centuries, with the exception that bear fat is not used for frying these days.

What remains true of Bay crab cakes today is that different regions of the Chesapeake have their own style of cakes. On the Eastern Shore folks prefer their crab cakes prepared simply so that the flavor of the crab is allowed to shine through. This happens by moistening the crab just slightly with lemon butter and adding virtually no filler, or what locals sometimes refer to as “sawdust.” Since there is little binding to hold the cakes together they must be broiled and handled with great care. The end result for a crab purist is sheer bliss: an absolutely pure, unadulterated crab cake. Folks from other parts of the Bay, particularly near the big cities, scoff at this notion and find these cakes bland. They prefer the style of cake that is flavored by a spicy, mayonnaise-enriched batter with a bread or cracker binding. The cake is then either fried or broiled. A third version of a crab cake, which is common in the southern parts of the Bay, is made by using a lightly seasoned cream sauce to hold the crabmeat together. The cakes are then chilled to firm them up and later lightly coated in bread crumbs and lightly fried. There are crab cake recipes for a full spectrum of tastes, yet people continue to experiment and discover  even more.

Now, what’s all the fuss about? They’re just little balls of crab all mushed together, right? Wrong. Here’s a guide to the structural makeup of a crab cake.

Choosing Crabmeat for Crab Cakes

This is like choosing a pet. Should it have a fancy pedigree or be a mixed breed? This all depends on your tastes and, in some cases, your wallet. The crab cake dishes in this book list the crabmeat grade the recipe’s originator believes works best, but feel free to substitute any type of crabmeat.

Jumbo Lump Crabmeat is what purists generally insist on and is the very best that money can buy. Crab cakes made with all jumbo lump are best sautéed or broiled rather than deep-fried. These big, beautiful lumps, with absolutely no shell or cartilage, come from the backfin on either side of the crab. In the old days of the crab business this type of crabmeat was aptly known as “backfin.”

Lump Crabmeat is a bit of a misnomer and is actually a blend of one-third jumbo lump and two-thirds flake (smaller pieces of crab from the chambers of the body). This type of crabmeat makes a beautiful cake of large, delectable lumps of crab combined with flavorful body meat. Just a touch of binding holds the  lump cake together nicely. This meat is perfect for any style crab cake you may wish to prepare.

Backfin Crabmeat is all flake from the center body cavity of the crab. While it does not make a particularly nice crab cake on its own, it works quite well when mixed with jumbo lump or lump. Higher in shell content than jumbo lump and lump, this type requires careful picking over to remove small bits of cartilage. It’s a great way to bring the price of the crab cake down and still produce a high-quality crab cake and make the family proud.

Claw Meat provides dark, sweet meat and a less expensive crab cake. These cakes, while not regarded as top of the line, are what are served in many coffee shops and neighborhood taverns, as well as at local fairs and carnivals. They are quite tasty and economical for large gatherings and parties. Crab cakes made with claw are generally fried and have a wonderful crispy outside with a delightful flavor from the sweet meat. Claw meat tends to have a higher moisture content, which requires a tad more binding to hold the cakes together. Most locals use claw meat in their vegetable crab soups as well.

Mixed Cakes are made from a blend of two or more types of crabmeat. My favorite mix is half jumbo lump and half lump, but actually any combination will work. Try your own formulas to find what you like best.

Meet John at the Baltimore Book Festival at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Food for Thought Stage. Or stop by Gertrude’s to pick up your signed copy.

Read Wednesday’s blog post for more information on where to find the JHU Press at this year’s Baltimore Book Festival.


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Filed under Baltimore, Book talks, Food / Cooking

Don’t miss the 2015 Baltimore Book Festival, September 25-27

BBF 2015 logo-bbfLook for books from Johns Hopkins University Press at the Ivy Bookshop tent at this year’s Baltimore Book Festival!  The Festival takes place at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor  this weekend–with great music, food, and books, books, books (and more books).  The Ivy tent on Rash Field features a JHUP table with a display of some of our latest regional titles, and several of our authors will speak and sign books during the weekend. Read on for more information and a 2015 festival map.

Friday, September 25, 3:00 p.m. at the Inner Harbor Stage
Michael Olesker, Front Stoops in the Fifties: Baltimore Legends Come of Age
Charles W. Mitchell, Travels through American History in the Mid-Atlantic: A Guide for All Ages

Saturday, September 26, 12:00 p.m. at the Ivy Bookshop Stage
Martha Joynt Kumar, Before the Oath: How George W. Bush and Barack Obama Managed a Transfer of Power


Saturday, September 26, 12:30 p.m. at the Food for Thought Stage
John Shields, Chesapeake Bay Cooking



Filed under American History, Baltimore, Book talks, Current Affairs, Food / Cooking, Press Events, Regional-Chesapeake Bay, University Presses, Writing

Beer, birds, behavioral health (and books) fill the May calendar

Beer in Seattle, birds in New York, behavioral health and outdoor sculpture in Baltimore—check out our author events, exhibits, and other activities in the merry (and busy) month of May! As always, we love it when you help spread the word about JHUP events.

8 May 2015, 12:00 p.m.
Johns Hopkins Retirees Program Tea & Book Talk 
– Charles Mitchell
“Remembering Lincoln”
With comments drawn from his books Travels through American History in the Mid-Atlantic and Maryland Voices of the Civil War
The Octagon, Johns Hopkins Mt. Washington Conference Center
Baltimore, MD
Admission: Program sponsored by JHU. Contact Jack Holmes at 410-516-6928 for more information.

Denny9 May 2105, 10:45 a.m.
Book Talk & Signing
– Mark Denny
Froth! The Science of Beer
JHU Alumni Program
Hale’s Ales Brewery & Pub
4301 Leary Way NW
Seattle, WA 98107
Join fellow alumni and friends for an afternoon of science and beer! We will welcome JHU Press author Mark Denny, as he shares insight from his book Froth! The Science of Beer as we enjoy some craft brews from Hale’s Ales Brewery. The group will also be led on a tour by one of Hale’s own brewers. Registration will be limited to 21+ only and will include a buffet pizza lunch during the talk.
Admission: Information on the JHU Alumni Association calendar, or call 800-JHU-JHU1 (548-5481) .

Kelly12 May 2015, 12:30 p.m.
Johns Hopkins Club Lunch & Lecture
– Cindy Kelly
Outdoor Sculpture of Baltimore
Johns Hopkins Club, Homewood campus
Baltimore, MD
Former director of JHU’s historic houses Cindy Kelly returns to Homewood campus to discuss the state of Baltimore’s treasure trove of public art, the subject of her acclaimed JHU Press book Outdoor Sculpture in Baltimore. Cindy will highlight some of her favorite sculptures and their fascinating histories, and she’ll update us on recent efforts to promote preservation and appreciation of these works.
Admission: $20; Club members contact the Club to register; non-members contact Jack Holmes at 410-516-6928 to attend as guests of the Press.

13 May 2015, 7:00 p.m.
Book Talk & Signing
– Cindy Kelly
Outdoor Sculpture of Baltimore
With a selection of other JHUP titles for sale.
Village Learning Place
2521 St. Paul St.
Baltimore, MD 21218
Admission: Free; books sales support VLP’s programs. For more information, call 410-235-2210.

Neighborhood Birds22 May 2015, 9:00 a.m.–noon
Walking Tour & Book Talk
– Leslie Day
Field Guide to the Neighborhood Birds of New York City
92nd Street Y
New York, NY
Day is the author of Field Guide to the Natural World of New York City and Field Guide to the Street Trees of New York City.
Information: 92nd St Y Website

27–30 May 2015
JHU Press Exhibit
– Latin American Studies Association
Information: LASA XXXIII International Congress Website
San Juan, PR

Kushner28 May 2015, 6:00 p.m.
Book Talk & Signing
– Adam Kushner, MD
Operation Health: Surgical Care in the Developing World
Hosted by JHU’s Jhpiego
Baltimore, MD
Admission: Contact Jack Holmes at 410-516-6928 for more information.


Kahan2 June 2015, 12:30 p.m.
Johns Hopkins Club Lunch & Lecture

Scott Kahan, MD, MPH
Health Behavior Change in Populations
Johns Hopkins Club, Homewood campus
Baltimore, MD
What is “behavioral health” and how is it transforming how we think about medical education and patient care? The JHU Bloomberg School’s Scott Kahan joins us to discuss his new JHU Press textbook on the topic and to consider the potential of “health behavior change” to address risks associated with substance abuse, eating behaviors, violence, workplace injury, and other common health threats.
Admission: $20; Club members contact the Club to register; non-members contact Jack Holmes at 410-516-6928 to attend as guests of the Press.


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Filed under Book talks, For Everyone, Press Events, Sale