The leading actor-manager of the 1700s, David Garrick revolutionized English theater with a lively, naturalistic acting style that held audiences spellbound. The Folger's collection of materials related to Garrick may be the largest in the world. This painted copper roundel and mezzotint document Garrick's performance of Romeo and Juliet with George Anne Bellamy between 1750 and 1753, to which he added a death scene (written by Garrick) between himself and Juliet.
A natural self-publicist who encouraged the production of hundreds of portraits of himself, Garrick played a key part in the cult of bardolatry that continues today. Words he wrote for a 1759 pantomime are carved in the Folger's Exhibition Hall:
Thrice happy the nation that Shakespeare has charm'd.
More happy the bosoms his genius has warm'd!
Ye children of nature, of fashion and whim,
He painted you all, all join to praise him.
In 1769, he helped organize the Shakespeare Jubilee in Stratford, an event that culminated in yet another Garrick poem on the Bard.