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Stephen H. Grant  6 read

Collecting Shakespeare

E of John D Rockefeller SrWhile a number of American universities offered to house the collection the Folgers wanted to give it to the American people Afraid the price of antiuarian books would soar if their names were revealed they secretly acuired prime real estate on Capitol Hill near the Library of Congress They commissioned the design and construction of an elegant building with a reading room public exhibition hall and the Elizabethan Theatre The Folger Shakespeare Library was dedicated on the Bard's birthday April 23 1932The library houses 82 First Folios 275000 books and 60000 manuscripts It welc Reading this book felt like going through an old drawer containing a handful of interesting diary notes interspersed with thousands of dry cleaning tickets and grocery receipts There was an occasional engrossing anecdote about what Henry or Emily personally thought about specific works of the Bard but most of the text involves slogging through the byzantine acuisition and financing of the Folgers' Shakespeare collection It made me wonder who was the target audience for this work Yes undoubtedly the Folgers amassed the premier collection of Shakespeare artifacts in the world a great boon to scholarship worldwide But this is not aimed at scholars as the material itself takes back seat to the business and bibliophilic ephemera of the Folgers' life Perhaps it was written for hoarders seeking justification for their own obsession Its organization is puzzling It is not ordered chronologically but by topic Further each chapter seems to jump around in time back and forth which makes constructing a compelling narrative about any aspect of the Folgers' life a chore for the reader I sadly must say that on the whole the book was a disappointment

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Omes than 100000 visitors a year and provides professors scholars graduate students and researchers from around the world with access to the collections It is also a vibrant center in Washington DC for cultural programs including theater concerts lectures and poetry readingsThe library provided Grant with unprecedented access to the primary sources within the Folger vault He draws on interviews with surviving Folger relatives and visits to 35 related archives in the United States and in Britain to create a portrait of the remarkable couple who ensured that Shakespeare would have a beautiful home in Ameri Extremely interesting book on the Folgers Henry and Emily His rise to wealth his interest in Shakespeare and his way of bidding to acuire his many collections of Shakespeare objects books signaturesfolio busts so many objects The people he wast building his collections with The architects of the Library in Washington

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In Collecting Shakespeare Stephen H Grant recounts the American success story of Henry and Emily Folger of Brooklyn a couple who were devoted to each other in love with Shakespeare and bitten by the collecting bugShortly after marrying in 1885 the Folgers started buying cataloging and storing all manner of items about Shakespeare and his era Emily earned a master's degree in Shakespeare studies The frugal couple worked passionately as a tight knit team during the Gilded Age financing their hobby with the fortune Henry earned as president of Standard Oil Company of New York where he was a trusted associat Grant had the full cooperation and sponsorship of the Folger Library and the Folger family to write this history of the couple and their lifetimes' work collecting Shakespeariana and eventually building the magnificent Folger Library in Washington DC The couple are interesting as Gilded Age college educated members of the business class Henry Folger was Rockefeller's head of Standard Oil New York advocates for women's colleges and liberal arts and childless sponsors of many nieces and nephews The three star review is simply the result of the book being a map and timeline of the acuisition of a lot of things and the financing and construction of the institution which can't help but be workmanlike in structure and specific in application


10 thoughts on “Collecting Shakespeare

  1. says:

    If you're into stuff like this you can read the full reviewA Man’s Obsession with First Folios “Collecting Shakespeare The Story of Henry and Emily Folger by Stephen H Grant   “The seed of the world renowned Folger Shakespeare Library was sown when Emily Jordan ‘fair in knowledge’ and Henry Folger ‘well read in poetry and other books’ attended a beach picnic and realized they shared a passion for Shakespeare” In Collecting Shakespeare The Story of Henry and Emily Folger by Stephen H Grant Shakespeare has been in the news lately Not only are his plays constantly being performed read analyzed and loved not only does his language fill our thoughts and his plots and themes our culture there is something definitely afoot “The Spanish Tragedy” by Thomas Kyd a discovery of another First Folio in France “discovery” of the only portrait made during Shakespeare’s lifetime the identity of the enigmatic ‘Mr WH’ to whom the sonnets were dedicated etc Is the Shakespeare renaissance underway? This book is the story of one man obsessed with a need to amass Shakespeare’s genius in one place The rest of this review can be found elsewhere


  2. says:

    Grant succeeds in crafting a superbly documented biography of Henry and Emily Folger which paints a vivid portrait of their passion for assembling and housing the finest Shakespeare collection in the world He includes enough detail to satisfy the curious but lets this story of selfless philanthropy unfold over 40 years So many fascinating small stories of book collecting the rivalry with Henry Huntington their devotion to curating their collection the decision to place the collection in Washington DC and the incredible collaboration between husband and wife for the same goal The greatest irony is that Henry didn't live to see his collection gathered in one place or even the placing of the cornerstone for the library Emily is the ultimate heroine in the four years after Henry's untimely death when she provides needed funding and leadership to see their life's worth culminate in the national treasure that is the Folger Shakespeare Library


  3. says:

    Grant had the full cooperation and sponsorship of the Folger Library and the Folger family to write this history of the couple and their lifetimes' work collecting Shakespeariana and eventually building the magnificent Folger Library in Washington DC The couple are interesting as Gilded Age college educated members of the business class Henry Folger was Rockefeller's head of Standard Oil New York advocates for women's colleges and liberal arts and childless sponsors of many nieces and nephews The three star review is simply the result of the book being a map and timeline of the acuisition of a lot of things and the financing and construction of the institution which can't help but be workmanlike in structure and specific in application


  4. says:

    At times wordy and capable of getting lost in small details Collecting Shakespeare is nonetheless a good recounting of the passion of Emily and Henry Folger for Shakespeare The summary of the history of the library after its founders' deaths also provided a good look at the way a research library adapted and changed with the changing technologies and times of the 20th century


  5. says:

    This was an okay book about really interesting people even the people who were only in a few paragraphs managed to be fascinating However the organization was a little lacking; the book itself did not have much of a narrative


  6. says:

    Reading this book felt like going through an old drawer containing a handful of interesting diary notes interspersed with thousands of dry cleaning tickets and grocery receipts There was an occasional engrossing anecdote about what Henry or Emily personally thought about specific works of the Bard but most of the text involves slogging through the byzantine acuisition and financing of the Folgers' Shakespeare collection It made me wonder who was the target audience for this work Yes undoubtedly the Folgers amassed the premier collection of Shakespeare artifacts in the world a great boon to scholarship worldwide But this is not aimed at scholars as the material itself takes back seat to the business and bibliophilic ephemera of the Folgers' life Perhaps it was written for hoarders seeking justification for their own obsession Its organization is puzzling It is not ordered chronologically but by topic Further each chapter seems to jump around in time back and forth which makes constructing a compelling narrative about any aspect of the Folgers' life a chore for the reader I sadly must say that on the whole the book was a disappointment


  7. says:

    Extremely interesting book on the Folgers Henry and Emily His rise to wealth his interest in Shakespeare and his way of bidding to acuire his many collections of Shakespeare objects books signaturesfolio busts so many objects The people he wast building his collections with The architects of the Library in Washington


  8. says:

    Collecting Shakespeare is a book with promise regrettably the book's focus proves frustrating for anyone whose central preoccupation is the library itself There are parts of this book however that are endlessly fascinating The final three chapters the portion of the book that addresses and explores the creation of the library itself are thoughtful and interesting Prior to that Collecting Shakespeare is the fetishized and too often implausible American Dream narrative run amok By Grant's account Folger was a bootstrap pulling autodidact who painfully amassed his collection of rare Shakespeariana over several decades while loyally serving John D Rockefeller and Standard Oil He was a prudent responsible thoughtful underling for one of America's first titans of industry In addition he strategically extricated himself from the less than ethical at times criminal charges leveled against Rockefeller All of this is to say too often Collecting Shakespeare is about the man and his obsession rather than what his obsession created Emily Folger is not as present in Collecting Shakespeare as I would have anticipated Remember it was her husband's wealth and investment capital that allowed the Folgers to amass the collection of rare books that would eventually become the Folger Shakespeare Library Grant attempts to illustrate how Emily Folger operated as a pivotal piece of her husband's bibliophilic endeavors by suggesting that she curated and investigated important rare books that Folger himself would inevitably purchase Regrettably too often she feels like Folger's underling not unlike Folger to Rockefeller Near the close of Collecting Shakespeare Grant ruminates over the symbolic significance of the Folger Shakespeare Library While describing the library's dedication ceremony on April 23 1932 he writes On the other side of the Atlantic from Stratford a newly confident American culture was about to receive an emblematic gift expressing its arrival as Europe's eual in cultivation and respect for high culture 177 The bombast notwithstanding this idea succinctly encapsulates what this book could have been; a history of America arriving as a legitimate cultural signifier represented by of all things a library for and about the work of William Shakespeare


  9. says:

    When the Folger Shakespeare Library opened in Washington DC in 1932 on the Bard’s birthday it housed an amazing number of First Folios even books and manuscripts and even included an Elizabethan Theatre All of this came together thanks to the tireless almost obsessive collecting of an American couple – Henry and Emily Folger The purchase collection and storage of all sorts of items about Shakespeare and his era became the centre piece of their marriage financed with the fortune Henry accumulated as president of the Standard Oil Company where he worked with John D Rockefeller Sr In Collecting Shakespeare Stephen H Grant recounts the story of this amazing couple whose love for Shakespeare was only eclipsed by their love for one anotherI really wanted to like Collecting Shakespeare A non fiction book about book collecting at the turn of the century? Revolving around the collection of works about and by William Shakespeare? Collected by a man who lived and worked with one of the business moguls of the period? It seemed to be right up my alley Unfortunately it was a big disappointment Stephen Grant lets the subject matter down with unexciting ponderous prose which leaches all of the fun out of what could have been an intriguing slice of turn of the century history Considering the world of book collecting and the rivalries that Grant gets into as well as Folger’s place in a world of oil and corruption that caused him to be brought up on charges than once this could have been great exciting narrative history if in the hands of an Erik Larson or a Paul Collins Unfortunately in Collecting Shakespeare we get a simple dry enumeration of events one that at times follows a linear timeline and at other times jumps about in a thematic view This makes for a messy narrative that is not easy to follow All in all a disappointing treatment of an interesting subject I gave Collecting Shakespeare 2 stars


  10. says:

    This book detailed how one couple built the largest ? library in the world dedicated to Shakespeare Short story one man got lucky with a school scholarships b marrying a wife who shared his passion c landing a modest paying job and living below his means and d making very lucky stock market investments The long answer is this book and it is well worth the read From colleges in late 19th century New England to oil barons to the sometimes unscrupulous world of book collecting and Congress Briggs not only details how the Folger Shakespeare Libary came to be but offers us a peek into upper middle class America at the turn of the last century 


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