on exhibit November 13, 2002 through March 1, 2003

Quiet Lives

Compared to the illustrious collectors in this exhibition, Edward Gwynn and Myles Blomefylde are "nobodies." We know very little about their personal lives and nothing about what motivated them to build their private libraries. Gwynn is imagined to be "one of those mildly eccentric bachelors who have done so much for English book collecting." Until 1973 Blomefylde was confused with William Blomfild, an alchemist and perhaps a relative. But here we celebrate Gwynne and Blomefylde as Bookmen, rather than Everyman.


I am Myles Blomefylde's boke

"I am Myles Blomefyldes Booke" fol. 1 in STC 2970 ©

Myles Blomefylde (1525-1603)

[Bible. N.T. Epistles and Gospels…] The espistles and gospells with a brief postyl vpon the same from Aduent tyll Lowe sonday… London, Richard Banks, [1542?]

Myles Blomefylde left a trail of endearing markings to help us identify his books. He was fond of using red ink, usually wrote his name or initials on title pages, added marginal notes, and frequently marked passages with a cross in the shape of a flower. Blomefylde preserved a number of important texts, mostely late medieval plays and popular religious drama. The espistles speak to us boldly, announcing "I am Myles Blomefyldes Booke."

Edward Gwynn (d. ca. 1645)

Shakespeare. [Nine quartos]. London, printed [by William Jaggard] for T[homas] P[auier], 1600 [i.e. 1619].

Gwynn's copy of the Pavier quartos was a landmark acquisition for Mr. Folger and remains a volume of enormous importance to Shakespeareans. A.S.W. Rosenbach called it "the finest Shakespeare volume in existence," and reasoned it belonged in the finest Shakespeare collection in the making, so offered it to Mr. Folger, who purchased it in 1919 for $100,000. It is the only complete copy known of the first attempt at a collection of Shakespeare's plays. It is in its original 17th-century binding, with Gwynn's hand-stamped name on the cover.

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 | Myne? |

Curator's Notes | Visiting the Folger

This page updated March 10, 2003