Teller and The Tempest: Magic in Shakespeare’s time

In Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the magician Prospero conjures up a storm, charms his daughter to sleep, and uses his power to control Ariel and other spirits. Is this magic for real, or is Prospero pulling off elaborate illusions? Fascinated by this question and by Prospero’s relinquishing of magic at the play’s end, Teller (of the magic/comedy… Continue Reading »


Documenting the life of an icon: Shakespeare at 400 years

Shakespeare, Life of an Icon, the first of four special exhibitions at the Folger Shakespeare Library in 2016, offers a fresh and intimate perspective on William Shakespeare as the London playwright, bestselling poet, and man from Stratford. This once-in-a-lifetime assemblage shares the documents that show us Shakespeare the man, four hundred years after his death.


Prospero and Persiles: Comparing the late romances of Shakespeare and Cervantes

In preparing for the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s and Miguel de Cervantes’ deaths, it is worth considering the writing they produced toward the end of their careers, particularly since these works bear striking similarities in setting, plot, and theme. For Shakespeare, this group of plays, categorized as romances, includes Pericles (1606-1608), Cymbeline (1608-1610), The… Continue Reading »


A contract for Othello

Folger Finds delivers delightful and insightful moments with the Folger collection. Sarah Hovde, a cataloger at the Folger Shakespeare Library, unearths the contract between the producer, the director, and the star of the longest-running Shakespeare play on Broadway, Othello.


Explore Shakespeare and world cinema, from China to Brazil

Can you imagine Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra transposed to rural India, where Antony becomes a cock fighter and Cleopatra a medicine woman? Or what about a Hamlet in the Himalayas, with the title character seeking forgiveness and reconciliation instead of revenge? Mark Thornton Burnett, a professor of English at Queen’s University Belfast, has done an extensive survey… Continue Reading »


David Garrick and the cult of bardolatry

[Editor’s Note: A version of this text first appeared in Infinite Variety: Exploring the Folger Shakespeare Library, edited by Esther Ferington, ©2002 Folger Shakespeare Library.] The leading actor-manager of the 1700s, David Garrick revolutionized English theatre with a lively, naturalistic acting style that held audiences spellbound. In three decades at the Drury Lane Theatre, Garrick… Continue Reading »


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