Posts By: Shakespeare & Beyond

Excerpt: ‘Index, A History of the’ by Dennis Duncan

While doing research in the Folger collection, Dennis Duncan encountered hundreds of indexes created by early modern readers. In this excerpt from his newly published book, “Index, A History of the,” Duncan describes the fascinating variety of reader indexes he discovered, including one from an early 17th-century tract against alcohol.



The sanitized Shakespeare of Mary Lamb and Henrietta Bowdler – Excerpt: ‘Shakespeare’s Lady Editors’ by Molly Yarn

As anyone who has read Shakespeare’s plays can attest, their content is not always very appropriate for children: brutal murders, bawdy jokes, incest, etc. Editions of Shakespeare’s plays that have been designed specifically for children often omit or smooth over things that parents might find objectionable. In the 19th century, access to Shakespeare was restricted not just for children but also for young women, as Molly Yarn explores in this excerpt from ‘Shakespeare’s Lady Editors’.


The unlikely link between a sixth-century queen and Macbeth

While working on “The Dark Queens: The Bloody Rivalry that Forged the Medieval World,” Shelley Puhak stumbled across a connection between her subjects and Shakespeare. Her book is a dual biography of Brunhild and Fredegund, two queens who, as long-term regents for their underage male relatives, ruled over most of sixth-century Western Europe. Fredegund was born a slave; Brunhild was a Visigoth princess. Despite their vastly different backgrounds, they ended up as sisters-in-law and political rivals who negotiated with emperors and popes, revitalized cities, revamped tax policy, and conducted a decades-long civil war—against each other. Echoes of one conflict in that war, the 593 Battle of Droizy, have been preserved in Macbeth’s final act, when Birnam Wood arrives at Dunsinane.


Quiz: Match the lovers to their Shakespeare play

Shakespeare’s comedies and romances are full of lovers. See if you can match each pair of lovers with the Shakespeare play in which they appear.



A 16th-century love charm of frog bones

In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, much of the comedic conflict derives from the application of the nectar of a magic flower. Under its influence, the queen of the fairies (Titania) becomes enamored of a donkey, and, through a bit of a mix-up, a spurned woman (Helena) suddenly finds herself desired by the man who… Continue Reading »


The world of Italy in Shakespeare’s comedies – Excerpt: Shakespeare and the Comedy of Enchantment

Italy is the setting most associated with Shakespeare’s comedies, providing layers of dramatic potential that Kent Cartwright explores in an excerpt from Shakespeare and the Comedy of Enchantment. “‘Italy,’ as an imagined construct, contains heightened civility yet also volatility and danger; at its best it facilitates new possibilities for the self and for human relations,”… Continue Reading »


Quiz: Siblings in Shakespeare’s plays

Shakespeare’s plays are full of brothers and sisters. Test your knowledge by seeing if you can correctly identify these characters’ siblings. Siblings in Shakespeare’s Plays Shakespeare’s plays are full of brothers and sisters. Can you correctly identify these characters’ siblings? In Twelfth Night, Viola’s twin brother is separated from her by a shipwreck, but by… Continue Reading »


Top Folger Finds on Instagram in 2021: Shakespeare books

Calling all book lovers! Some of our most popular #FolgerFinds posts on Instagram this year featured beautiful bindings of Shakespeare’s collected works or early editions of Shakespeare plays that may have slightly different plot elements than the versions we’ve come to see as standard. One of these quartos, an early edition of A Midsummer Night’s… Continue Reading »