Shop  |  Calendar  |  Join  |  Buy Tickets  |  Hamnet  |  Site Rental  |  Press Room  
About UsWhat's OnUse the CollectionDiscover ShakespeareTeach & LearnFolger InstituteSupport Us
Folger Exhibitions
• Past Exhibitions
Shakespeare for Children

   Sign up for E-news!
   Printer Friendly

Shakespeare's Life & Family

Miniature Desk Set containing Shakespeare's Works.


In 1564, William Shakespeare was born in the English town of Stratford-upon-Avon.  He was the eldest son of John Shakespeare and his wife Mary Arden. John was a prosperous merchant who became Lord Mayor of Stratford.


Shakespeare’s grammar school still survives in Stratford today.  He was most likely instructed in Latin, rhetoric, and religion. Also, he would have studied at his own school desk, like the model here, and read his lessons from “horn books”—text printed on paper or parchment, glued to wood, and covered with a piece of clear animal horn to protect it.


Next »
English hornbook. London, 1625?

Additional Information

Horn books, like the one shown above, were used by English children from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries to learn basic reading skills.


The earliest examples were made of thin panels of oak wood and had labels bearing the alphabet, numbers, and the Lord's Prayer pasted on them. A very thin and transparent veneer of cattle horn covered the label. A wooden handle was fixed to the frame so that the horn book could easily be held in a child's hand.


For more information, see B. Folmsbee's "A Little History of the Horn-book." Stevens, 1965.

Check Out Some
Games & Activites for Kids

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

Federal Tax ID #04-2103542
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
Main: 202 544 4600
Box Office: 202 544 7077
Fax: 202 544 4623