"THYS BOKE IS MYNE"
on exhibit November 13, 2002 through March 1, 2003
Ordinary Editions Made Famous
carried an inexpensive pocket edition of the sonnets on his walks. "Boneta"
took her trade edition of Shakespeare to the California Gold Rush. George
Eliot and Henry Lewes wrote on nearly every page
of their one-volume Shakespeare, she in pencil, he in pen. Henry
Clay Folger copied choice bits of bardolotry onto the blank pages
of a Christmas present from his brother. Totally undistinguished nineteenth
-century editions of Shakespeare become collectors' items because of their
association value and the things they tell us about their owners.
Eliot (1819-1880) and George Henry Lewes (1817-1878)
William Shakespeare. The Dramatic
. London, Jones and Co., 1832.
This opening from Othello
shows marginal notes of George Eliot and her partner, George Henry Lewes,
on facing pages. Eliot's notes are in pencil throughout the volume, Lewes's
generally in ink. Eliot's most interesting notes question grammar, details
that affect interpretation, and even staging possibilities. There are
numerous references to other editions and editors of Shakespeare, and
myriad references to other plays and authors, suggesting the breadth of
the couple's reading. (This working copy was first identified by a Folger
reader, Dr. Bernise Kliman, in 1997.)
While the marginalia is extremely
difficult to read, it is fascinating to follow the thoughts and observations
of two very attentive and knowledgeable readers. The opening to Othello
III.3 shows, under maginifcation, Eliot's note, "Compare the latter
part of Act 3 of Massinger's Fatal Dowry with this scene."
Lewes often shows his familiarity with the history of editorial practice,
as in his note:
But pardon me; I do not
Distinctly speak of her...
retained by St[eevens].
on pages 954 and 955 0 in PR2752 1832g Sh. Col.
quote in HCF's hand on flyleaf in PR2752 1875k As. Col.
Emerson (and Henry Clay
Folger) on Shakespeare
William Shakespeare. The Dramatic Works
. Philadelphia, J.B.
Lippincott & Co., 1875.
This volume is
thought to be Henry Clay Folger's first copy of Shakespeare, a Christmas
present from his brother in 1875, the year before he became a student
at Amherst College. Although the text is unmarked, Mr. Folger filled the
preliminary pages with quotations from Carlyle, Mrs. Browning, and especially
Emerson, in praise of Shakespeare. While it is not clear exactly when
Folger copied these lines, he selected passages that reflected his own
No nation has produced
anything his equal. There is no quality in
the human mind, there is no class of topics, there is no region of thought,
in which he has not soared or descended, and none in which he has not
had the commanding word...His are bright and terrible eyes, which meet
the modern student in every sacred chapel of thought, in every public
enclosure. He is the King of all scholars.
Emerson: Address, Howard University
Copy of the Sonnets
Shakespeare. The poems of William Shakespeare. Philadelphia, John
Walt Whitman's inexpensive
pocket edition of Shakespeare's Sonnets, signed and well read.
Books | Collectors |
Markings | Signatures |
Henry VIII | Actors'
Books | Bindings | Manuscript
Book Lists | Women Collectors | Inscriptions
| 18th Century | Alexander
Pope | Quiet Lives |