If you search for the word “pelican” in Shakespeare’s plays, you come across three instances, in Hamlet, King Lear, and Richard II. All three refer to a symbolic meaning of the pelican that can feel remote to today’s reader or audience member, but which Shakespeare’s audience would have been more familiar with.
Posts Categorized: Research-and-discovery
Lady Mary Wroth watched Shakespeare act in his own plays, heard her relative Sir Walter Raleigh talk about founding Virginia, and almost certainly met Pocahantas and ambassadors from Morocco. Wroth’s later prose fiction echoes elements of her own life, including foreign travel, tragic deaths of siblings, arranged marriage, a lifelong love for her cousin, royal visits to her home, and then civil war.
Paul Robeson was the first modern African American to perform Shakespeare—to perform Othello, and he talks in his letters and in his essays about bringing his experiences as a student in a white arena, his experiences with racism, to the performance. So for him as an actor, he brought his experience as an African American in a racist society to this performance of Othello, a black man in a racist society. Other actors who saw him said it was like seeing Othello for the first time.
Dig deeper into one of the biggest Shakespeare stories of 2016: the discovery of previously unknown depictions of Shakespeare’s coat of arms. Folger Curator of Manuscripts Heather Wolfe and Folger Director Michael Witmore elaborate on the significance of those discoveries and the insights they yield about Shakespeare.
Let’s take a moment to revisit some of the biggest Shakespeare stories in the news this year, from the discoveries that grabbed headlines to the spectacular celebrations of the 400th anniversary to the celebrity performances that generated the most buzz. Discoveries and Scholarship Archaeologists have been busy this year. After taking hi-tech scans of Shakespeare’s… Continue Reading »
Folger copy 54 of the First Folio, which traveled to Hawaii and California during the First Folio national tour in 2016, passed through the hands of many generations of one family for over 250 years before Henry Folger bought it in 1913. One of its nineteenth-century owners, Captain Charles Hutchinson, clearly valued the book as… Continue Reading »
By Esther Ferington The roles of early modern women in Shakespeare’s time—both the fictional characters in his plays and the real-life women of his era—have been central to many projects created by Georgianna Ziegler, Louis B. Thalheimer Associate Librarian and Head of Reference Emerita. Ziegler, who is also a co-founder of the Society for the… Continue Reading »
Folger Curator of Manuscripts Heather Wolfe dropped a bombshell in The New York Times this past week: Newly discovered depictions of Shakespeare’s coat of arms from the seventeenth century provide documentary evidence that while the heralds made the grant of arms to his father, William Shakespeare himself was intimately involved in the application and the ensuing controversy over… Continue Reading »
Shakespeare’s heroines often end up with husbands who don’t seem good enough for them, while Cervantes might instead suggest it would be better to leave excellent women single—whether in the convent or outside the bounds of society. Does one option seem more satisfying, or are both hard to swallow? Cervantes specified that he should be… Continue Reading »
In The Art of Dying Well, the Italian Jesuit Robert Bellarmine, a contemporary of William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes, declares, “True, therefore, is the sentence, ‘He who lives well, dies well;’ and, ‘He who lives ill, dies ill.’” This year marks the 400th anniversary of the deaths of Cervantes and Shakespeare—what might these two… Continue Reading »