Home
Shop  |  Calendar  |  Join  |  Buy Tickets  |  Hamnet  |  Site Rental  |  Press Room  
  
About UsWhat's OnUse the CollectionDiscover ShakespeareTeach & LearnFolger InstituteSupport Us


Edwin Booth as Richard III costume



Among the more striking pieces of theater history held at the Folger is this faded but still-regal coat worn by Edwin Booth when he played Richard III. The son of the well-known tragedian Junius Brutus Booth, Edwin took New York by storm in 1857 and remained a dramatic force until his retirement in 1891. Several of his costumes are housed at the Folger.

 

During the 1864–65 season, Booth secured his place at the top of America's theatrical world by playing Hamlet one hundred nights in a row at the Winter Garden, a remarkable feat at a time when most plays were performed for only one or two weeks. Less than a month later, he and the nation were stunned by the news that his younger brother John Wilkes Booth, also an actor, had assassinated Abraham Lincoln. Briefly, Edwin Booth went into seclusion. But he returned in time to new triumphs, establishing Booth's Theatre in New York (a theatrical success, though a financial disaster) and founding the Players Club in the same city.

 

In keeping with his era's interest in historical accuracy, Edwin Booth derived many of his costumes from the reference works of James Robinson Planché. Planché was almost certainly the source for this garment, which incorporates the royal coat of arms of Richard's day—British lions quartered with French fleurs-de-lis—and has a padded shoulder to indicate Richard's identity as a hunchback. As shown in this hand-colored engraving from 1872, one of twelve showing Booth in various costumes, the actor wore it over stage armor in the final scenes at Bosworth Field.

 


Costume worn by Edwin Booth in the role of Richard III, Embroidered velvet. 2nd half of 19th century.



H. Linton after W.J. Hennessy. Edwin Booth as Richard III. Hand-colored wood engraving, 1872


 
 
To learn more about the Folger's extensive collections online, click here.
 
    In The Shop


 
Infinite Variety
To find similar stories about other items from the Folger collection, look for Infinite Variety: Exploring the Folger Shakespeare Library.


Bookmark and Share   
 
     Copyright & Policies   |   Sitemap   |   Contact Us   |   About This Site
RSS   
 
  Address:
201 East Capitol Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003
Get directions »

Federal Tax ID #04-2103542
    Hours:
PublicReading Room
10am to 5pm, Monday through Saturday8:45am to 4:45pm, Monday through Friday
12pm to 5pm, Sunday9am to noon and 1pm to 4:30pm, Saturday
    Phone:
Main: 202 544 4600
Box Office: 202 544 7077
Fax: 202 544 4623