Posts By: Shakespeare & Beyond

Excerpt – “Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne” by Katherine Rundell

“Spiritually speaking, many of us confronted with the thought of death perform the psychological equivalence of hiding in a box with our knees under our chin: Donne hunted death, battled it, killed it, saluted it, threw it parties.” Read more from Katherine Rundell in this excerpt from her new biography of the English poet John Donne, “Super-Infinite: The Transformations of John Donne.”


Excerpt: “The Final Curtain: The Art of Dying on Stage” by Laurence Senelick

Shakespeare’s plays provide ample opportunity for dramatic deaths onstage, and 18th-century English actors like David Garrick transformed simple stage directions in the text into “stirring set-pieces,” as Laurence Senelick writes in the below excerpt from his new book, “The Final Curtain: The Art of Dying on Stage.”


Arthur Murphy’s 18th-century collection of humor – Excerpt: “Laughing Histories” by Joy Wiltenburg

“Murphy may be the first person in history to subject laughter to such intensive and extensive study, at least from the perspective of a laughter professional,” writes Joy Wiltenburg about the 18th-century writer’s 500-page compilation of humor, in this excerpt from her book, “Laughing Histories.” Murphy’s commonplace book is part of the Folger collection.



Excerpt – “Susanna Hall, Her Book” by Jennifer Falkner

In the opening scene of Jennifer Falkner’s novella “Susanna Hall, Her Book,” the queen of England has just arrived at New Place in Stratford-upon-Avon. But Susanna, the eldest daughter of William Shakespeare, has reasons for not wanting to host Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I.



Active reading in the 16th century: Commonplace books and sammelbands

Collecting extracts of text in commonplace books and binding multiple books together to create a sammelband were two notable practices of readers in the 16th and 17th centuries, as Jason Scott-Warren (University of Cambridge) explains in this excerpt from a Shakespeare Unlimited podcast episode about books and reading in Shakespeare’s England.


A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Insights from Folger Theatre dramaturg Michele Osherow

“Nowhere does Shakespeare attend more to theatrical enterprise and potential than in A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” writes Michele Osherow, Folger Theatre’s resident dramaturg. “It makes the play irresistible to those who practice theatre and to those who crave its incomparable pleasures.” Read more in this playbill excerpt from Folger Theatre’s new production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” onstage through August 28 as part of “The Playhouse” at the National Building Museum.


A game of chess

Take a closer look at some unusual chess sets in the Folger collection, spanning continents and centuries.