on exhibit November 13, 2002 through March 1, 2003

Actors' Books:

Many actors have been collectors of literature and memorabilia related to the stage. While some actors' collections are full of tributes and press reviews, others, such as Garrick's and Kemble's were those of serious book collectors. Garrick's library of dramatic literature was said to be unrivaled. Kemble took a scholarly interest in his books, collating them to verify their completeness. Both were students of their art as well as performers. Sarah Siddons, Kemble's sister, was also a reader and collector.

John Philip Kemble (1757-1832)

Shakespeare. The Late, and much admired Play, called Pericles, Prince of Tyre …. London, Henry Gosson, 1609.

This remarkably clean copy of Pericles was owned by the famous actor and book collector, John Philip Kemble, who notes "Collated & Perfect. J.P.K. 1798" with "First Edition" at the bottom of the page.

It's a brilliant copy in fine condition - a specimen Shakespeare quarto. We do not know what Kemble thought of the play, though presumably not much, since there is no record of the play among the 25 Shakespearean works he staged at Drury Lane or Covent Garden over nearly three decades.

Blowup of "Collated & Perfect J.P.K. 1798" on t.p. in STC 22335 c.2 ©

Oil painting of Kemble as Coriolanus

Oil Painting of Kemble as Coriolanus, Pressly Catalogue, Entry 114

Kemble salvages Kemble

I did, indeed, put that nonsense to the press.
John Philip Kemble

John Philip Kemble. Fugitive Pieces. London, 1780.

Though the poetry in Fugitive Pieces was regretted from the day of publication by its author, it is now a volume of exceptional rarity. John Philip Kemble (1757-1833) published the volume of 16 poems in 1780 in an edition of only 200 copies, but "ran, the very morning I saw it in print, to suppress it," destroying every copy he could lay his hands on. The pallid love lyrics, possibly written with Mrs. Inchbald in mind, have been called "among the slightest productions in an age notorious for slight poetry." As late as 1817 Kemble was burning any copies he found, so Fanny's copy, signed on the title page and probably hidden from her father, is among the rarest books in the exhibition and a superb association copy.

David Garrick (1717-1779) and Eva Maria Garrick (1724-1822)

William Shakespeare. Mr. William Shakespeare's comedies, histories, and tragedies. London: Tho. Cotes, for Iohn Smethwick, 1632.

This copy of the Second Folio is rich in associations. The bookplate of David Garrick appears over a printed note telling us the book was

"part of the Library of David Garrick...bequeathed by Mrs. Eva Maria Garrick...to George Frederick Beltz [1777-1841], ... one of the Executors of her Will."

Exhibition Highlights

| Writers' Books | Collectors | Markings | Signatures | Henry VIII | Actors' Books | Ordinary Books Made Famous | Bindings | Manuscript Book Lists | Women Collectors | Inscriptions | 18th Century | Alexander Pope | Quiet Lives | Myne? |

Curator's Notes | Visiting the Folger

This page updated March 10, 2003