Tag Archives: Folger Shakespeare Library

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.

STEVE’S 2016 FIRST FOLIO TOUR

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

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
REGISTRATION REQUIRED

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

June 22, 6:30 pm
San Diego Public Library Talk
330 Park Blvd., San Diego CA 92101
FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

June 23, 6:00 pm
San Francisco Public Library Talk
Main Library, Koret Auditorium, 100 Larkin St, San Francisco CA 94102
FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

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

 

 

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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 Google.org. 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!


STEVE’S FIRST FOLIO TOUR

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
http://media.museumofnewmexico.org/events.php?action=detail&eventID=2685

Reception by Friends of the Santa Fe Public Library, Feb. 20, 2016 5:30 – 7:30 PM
http://www.santafelibraryfriends.org/SpecialEvents.html

Stanford University Book Store Talk Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016 at 6 PM
https://events.stanford.edu/events/572/57263/

Marin County Book Passage Talk Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016 at 7:00 PM
http://www.bookpassage.com/event/stephen-grant-collecting-shakespeare

The Homestead, Hot Springs, Va. Talk Saturday, Mar. 12 at 4 PM
http://www.omnihotels.com/hotels/homestead-virginia/things-to-do/event-calendar?trumbaEmbed=view%3Devent%26eventid%3D117806472

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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Fifty Folger gigs in 18 months

Guest post by Stephen H. Grant

Authors are blessed when their books are published on important anniversaries. Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folger hit the stands in the spring of 2014, coinciding with the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth in 1564. After the Folger Shakespeare Library was dedicated in 1932, four decades passed before the first biography of its founders appeared. This lapse is quite surprising when one considers that the private research library, only two blocks from the US Capitol, houses the largest Shakespeare collection in the world. The biography unlocks the key to how, during the Gilded Age, a quiet Victorian couple, together and alone, pulled off the feat from their Brooklyn brownstone.

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The (Masonic) Naval Lodge on Capitol Hill.

During the last 18 months, I have been active in arranging speaking venues, book signings, and media events in Washington, DC, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, Virginia, and Connecticut. In addition to four events organized by the publisher, hosts have included 13 private clubs, 12 libraries, 6 public halls, 3 bookshops, 3 private homes, 3 radio stations, 2 TV stations, 2 colleges, 1 museum, and 1 theatre.

Grant sept Union LC Steve Forbes 1

The author’s “Collecting Shakespeare” table with Steve Forbes seated nearby, at the Union League Club in New York.

High points were TV performances on CBS This Morning and C-SPAN2, and peddling books at a table near Ralph Nader, Cokie Roberts, Ted Olson, and Steve Forbes (photo 2). Chagrined to find a long taxi line at New York’s Penn Station, I folded my six-foot-four frame into a pedicab and bounced along the Manhattan roadway to the sedate Union League Club. As I emerged from between two plastic flaps, the doorman eyed me warily.

Grant sept Franklin Tomb, Boston 3

Franklin obelisk gravestone in center of Old Granary Burial Ground; behind is the Boston Athenaeum.

A cool DC venue was the Naval Lodge (photo 1), chartered in 1805, only paces from the Folger Shakespeare Library. In Boston, it doesn’t get any better than the Athenaeum, founded in 1807. Adjacent to this private bibliophiles’ club one block from the Massachusetts State House lies the Old Granary Burial Ground, established in 1660. The stone obelisk gravestone in the center (photo 3) contains the remains of Abiah Folger and her husband, Josiah Franklin, the parents of Benjamin Franklin. Henry Folger traced his line back to Abiah’s father, Peter. Henry once wrote, “Had I not collected Shakespeariana, I would have collected Frankliniana.”

Attending the Athenaeum lecture (photo 4) was a grandniece of Henry Folger who remembers nervously reciting a poem from Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses at a Thanksgiving dinner at Emily Folger’s residence in Glen Cove, Long Island after “Uncle Henry” died.

Grant sept Boston Athenaeum hi-res 4

On screen, budding bibliophile Henry Folger grasping the first of 92,000 books he will acquire.

The Theatre Library Association named Collecting Shakespeare a finalist for the George Freedley Memorial Award in 2014 in the field of live theatre or performance.  Next year, 2016, marks the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death in 1616. Gigs are already scheduled in Santa Fe, San Diego, Palo Alto, and San Francisco. Lucky author!

Stephen 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.

 

 

 

 

 

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Happy birthday, Emily Jordan Folger

Guest post by Stephen H. Grant

Emily Jordan was born in Ironton, Ohio on May 15, 1858. Following her two older sisters to Vassar College, she emerged a bluestocking: a refined lady with intellectual, scholarly, and literary interests. Emily’s Vassar 1879 class of 36 students elected her class president for life. Although her undergraduate scrapbook attests to a few dates with nearby West Pointers, she met her husband to be in Brooklyn at a literary salon in the home of Charles Pratt, founder of the Pratt Institute. Henry Folger also graduated in 1879, from Amherst College, where he roomed with Charles Pratt Jr. Both Emily and Henry earned Phi Beta Kappa keys. Neither Emily’s nor Henry’s parents attended college.

Emily Jordan, 1879

Emily Jordan, 1879

Emily took one of the few jobs open to young women, teaching. She taught in the collegiate department at the Nassau Institute—Miss Hotchkiss’s school for young ladies—in Brooklyn. When she married Henry in 1885, she was obliged to give up her teaching job. For the next half century, Emily served as a full partner in one of the most prodigious literary feats of all time: assembling the largest collection of Shakespeare in the world.

Henry Folger corresponded with 600 booksellers, 150 in London alone. The underground vault of the Folger Shakespeare Library contains 258 linear feet of auction catalogs which arrived at Henry’s office, 26 Broadway in Manhattan, home of the Standard Oil Company where he worked for five decades. When he brought the catalogs home to Emily in their Bedford-Stuyvesant brownstone, her job was to identify the items she wanted in their collection. Henry put together a bid list, and paid for the winning lots from his oil fortune. Then Emily wrote up each item for the card catalog, developing writer’s cramp along the way.

A childless couple, the Folgers were singlemindedly devoted to the Bard. They received family only twice a year: Thanksgiving and January 1. Nieces remember that on these sparse occasions, their aunt expected them to recite poetry and rewarded them with a book with a five-dollar bill tucked inside. The Folgers attended no social events nor hosted any business dinners. When they went on vacation in Virginia, they lugged a special travel card catalog around with them. On their numerous voyages to England, they attended Shakespeare performances, went book hunting, and brought back poppy seeds from Stratford-upon-Avon.

Emily was a close adviser to her husband in the acquisition of eighty-two Shakespeare First Folios, the 1623 compilation of thirty-six plays, eighteen of which might have been lost to the world as they had not been printed. Emily had earned a masters degree at Vassar with a thesis on “The True Text of Shakespeare,” pointing to the 1623 publication as the most authoritative edition of the plays. Emily kept a fascinating play diary, where she wrote pages and pages of detail concerning the 125 Shakespeare plays she saw in her lifetime.

In 1919, the Folgers started buying up the fourteen redbrick rowhouses two blocks from the U.S. Capitol on land they had identified for a permanent repository for their Shakespeare collection. Each of the deeds noted Emily Jordan Folger as owner. She also held in her name bank vault and storage warehouse accounts where they stored books, manuscripts, playbills, prints, engravings, paintings, pieces of furniture, porcelain, armor, maps, charts, phonograph records, costumes, globes, musical instruments, and curios. Henry stayed beneath the radar.

In the late 1920s the Folgers continued their aggressive buying of Shakespeare items, but made the time to help design what would become the Folger Shakespeare Library with French-born architect, Paul Philippe Cret. They selected quotations to be etched in stone. They identified scenes from Shakespeare’s plays for relief sculptures on the library façade.

Emily Jordan Folger, 1931

Emily Jordan Folger, 1931

It was Emily’s Day on April 23, 1932, the 368th celebration of Shakespeare’s birthday, when, wearing a shoulder corsage of orchids, and lilies of the valley over her academic robe, she turned over the keys of the Folger Shakespeare Library to the chairman of the board of Amherst College, who was responsible for the administration of the Folger. Henry was not present. He had died suddenly two weeks after the cornerstone was laid. He had never seen one stone of his library. He had never seen all his books and Shakespeare treasures assembled together under one roof. Seamlessly, Emily took over the mantle to make the research library a reality. She died in 1936. The Folgers’ ashes are in urns behind a bronze plaque in the reading room. The Folger is a library, a theatre, and a mausoleum.

grant.collectingStephen 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.

 

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Happy birthday, Jane Austen!

Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775, in Steventon, Hampshire, England. Today, on her 239th birthday, Austen’s life and work continue to attract enormous world-wide interest. In 2016, the Folger Shakespeare Library will host an exhibition called Will & Jane: Shakespeare, Austen, and the Cult of Celebrity, exploring how these writers became literary superheroes. The exhibition will be co-curated by JHU Press authors Janine Barchas (Matters of Fact in Jane Austen: History, Location, and Celebrity) and Kristina Straub (Domestic Affairs: Intimacy, Eroticism, and Violence between Servants and Masters in Eighteenth-Century Britain).  Congratulations, Janine and Kristina: we’ll see you at the Folger!  For now: Happy birthday, Jane!

“Will & Jane” artwork by Amanda Vela 

 

 

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Henry Folger never knew of the First Folio that surfaced in France this year

Guest post by Stephen H. Grant

In forty years of book collecting, Henry Clay Folger managed to collect eighty-two of the 800 or so First Folios containing thirty-six Shakespeare plays compiled by two of the Bard’s actor friends, John Heminge and Henry Condell, and printed in 1623. They form the gemstone of the private research institution, the Folger Shakespeare Library, on Capitol Hill. When individual Shakespeare plays were first printed, they appeared in a small “quarto” format. A “folio” page is twice the size of a quarto page, over a foot high and about nine inches wide. The compilation that appeared seven years after Shakespeare’s death is the sole source for half of Shakespeare’s dramatic production. Eighteen 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 work. Henry Folger called the First Folio “the greatest contribution ever made to the world’s secular literature.” His wife, Emily Jordan Folger, referred to the volume as “the cornerstone of the Shakespeare Library.” Amherst-educated Henry and Vassar-educated Emily were a childless couple from the Gilded Age. Together they collected 92,000 books about Shakespeare and his times, an average of six books every day.

Title page of Shakespeare's First Folio, published in 1623, with the familiar portrait by Droeshout. The Folger Library possesses eighty-two copies of the First Folio, all different in some respects.  Image from Collecting Shakespeare, used by permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library.

Title page of Shakespeare’s First Folio, published in 1623, with the familiar portrait by Droeshout. The Folger Library possesses eighty-two copies of the First Folio, all different in some respects. Image from Collecting Shakespeare, used by permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library.

A vanished First Folio is rediscovered on average once a decade. The Folgers were not aware of the First Folio that resurfaced in the northern France town of Saint-Omer in September 2014. For 200 years, it had been misshelved among antiquarian books from the eighteenth century. The Saint-Omer copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio is incomplete and damaged. Thirty pages are missing, including the title page with the iconic engraving of the high-browed Bard and the entire play Two Gentlemen of Verona. However, when an exhibit on Anglo-Saxon authors opens in the Saint-Omer public library in 2015, this item will be its centerpiece. It is bound to attract hoards of both tourists and scholars.

It is too early to evaluate the import of this recent find. It will take months or years for scholars to minutely examine all its pages to discover the secrets that lie within. One thing is immediately clear: this copy shows signs of significant wear and use. Not only are the pages worn, but the margins contain handwritten annotations. Certain antiquarian book collectors—such as J. P. Morgan or Henry E. Huntington, who competed with Folger for the same items—would have declined to acquire the volume as it was not complete or pristine. Folger would have aggressively sought to purchase the item. He was persuaded that a well-used First Folio would yield important clues for scholars. It was for study, not for show.

Possibly one major feature in the Saint-Omer copy is related to religious beliefs. Saint-Omer lies only eighty miles across the English Channel from Dover. During Queen Elizabeth’s reign, an English Jesuit in the late sixteenth century founded a college in Saint-Omer. The college provided a haven for British Catholics persecuted in Protestant Elizabethan England who fled across the Strait of Dover.

In the Middle Ages, Saint-Omer had been one of the forty most important European cities, boasting the fourth largest library. It contained a Gutenberg Bible, much rarer than a Shakespeare First Folio. There are now 233 known First Folios and about fifty original Gutenberg Bibles in the world. It is significant that the other Shakespeare First Folio in France is in Paris, and the other two Gutenberg Bibles in France are also in Paris. With the 2014 find, Saint-Omer has made a huge bound in celebrity reminiscent of its heyday 500 years ago. One small village in the Pas de Calais houses the two most famous secular and sacred volumes in the universe. Although the newly discovered First Folio already has a preliminary value of $4 million put on it, the library director has announced it constitutes a national treasure and is not for sale.

grant.collectingStephen 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.

 

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Henry Clay Folger’s Greatest Honor

Guest post by Stephen H. Grant

A century ago, in 1914, Henry Folger received an honorary Doctorate of Letters from Amherst College. The citation read: “Henry Clay Folger, a graduate of this college in 1879, called to the bar in due course, called by ability, by character, by efficiency, integrity and the confidence of men in his judgment to the widest fields and the highest posts in leading and guiding the industrial development of the land; a collector of the largest assemblage yet known of the editions and the literature of the greatest dramatist, gathered with learning, watchful care and studious pains; owner of 49 copies of the first folio edition of the plays of Shakespeare, a priceless and unexampled field for comparative research. I ask you alike for his services in the affairs of a great empire of industry whose produce is on every sea and its light on all lands and for his knowledge in the most important field known in English literature to confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Letters.”

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Emily Jordan Folger wearing her purple Amherst hood in the reading room of the Folger Shakespeare Library in 1932. She gazes at the Frank O. Salisbury portrait of her husband, Henry Clay Folger, in the same hood.

Another awardee at the ceremony was ex-President William Howard Taft, who received an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree. Who was observing the two eminent gentlemen enter the motor vehicle headed for a banquet following the exercises? Folger was five feet four and weighed 115 lbs. Taft was six feet tall and weighed 335 lbs. Inside, Dr. Taft leaned over and said mischievously to Dr. Folger, “Forty-nine Folios? We have the fiftieth at Yale.” Founder of the University’s Elizabethan Club, Yale alumnus Alexander S. Cochran donated to the Club a Shakespeare First Folio in 1911.

In picking Folger for an honorary degree, Amherst got it right. Folger had climbed to the top of two vastly different fields: the petroleum industry and Shakespeare collection. To have accomplished either one would have been a prodigious undertaking. By 1914, Folger was president of Standard Oil Company of New York, which later became Mobil Corporation. His Shakespeare collection then included forty-nine First Folios, all different in some way. Before he died in 1930, Folger had acquired eighty-two copies of the Bard’s 1623 collected dramatic works published posthumously in London.

Folger wrote Amherst trustee, Talcott Williams, “I wish to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this the greatest honor of my life.” He wrote his pastor, S. Parkes Cadman, “It was most unexpected, but the greatest possible honor. Amherst gives few degrees. You will be amused at the basis for conferring it; it was not all Shakespeare.” From Pocantico Hills, New York, came this tongue-in-cheek accolade: “I congratulate you upon receiving the degree, and that your connection with a great and useful business organization did not detract from your high standing,” signed John D. Rockefeller.

Henry Clay Folger died in 1930 without having seen a stone of the Folger Shakespeare Library built or his entire collection assembled in the nation’s capital across the street from the Library of Congress. His wife, Emily, took over the decision making responsibilities and was present to turn over the keys of the Library to the chairman of the Amherst trustees on Shakespeare’s 368th birthday, April 23, 1932.

Later that year, Amherst College bestowed on Emily a degree with this citation: “Emily Clara Jordan, graduate of Vassar College, through many years the enthusiastic, tireless, and discriminating companion of Henry Clay Folger in the collection of a unique library of the works of Shakespeare; generous benefactress of Amherst College and of the lovers of letters throughout the whole world; the degree which 18 years ago Amherst College appropriately bestowed upon your husband it now, with the same hood as symbol, confers upon you, as I create you a Doctor of Letters.” It was a triumphant yet bittersweet moment for Emily Jordan Folger.

grant.collectingStephen 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.

Meet Steve Grant on October 23 at the Oliver Wolcott Library in Litchfield, CT; on November 8 at the National Press in Washington, DC; and on December 1 at the Central Library in Arlington, VA.  For more information, visit Steve’s website.

 

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