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Men of Letters



Shakespeare's Influence on Abraham Lincoln



H.W. Fay. Abraham Lincoln. Photograph, 1894, from an earlier master

Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president, was known for many things. Freeing the slaves. Winning the Civil War. Holding the Union together. But he was also one of our most literary presidents. Of the three books that sat on his White House desk, one of them was the works of Shakespeare—a writer Lincoln cherished throughout his life. He enjoyed going to the theater, too, which in his day often meant Shakespeare.

 

UCLA professor of English Stephen Dickey, John Andrews, editor of The Everyman Shakespeare, and Michael Bishop, founding Executive Director of the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, discuss Shakespeare's enduring influence on Lincoln—and on Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth. Alan Simpson, a United States Senator from Wyoming for 18 years, talks about why Shakespeare continues to occupy such a special place in the hearts of political leaders today.

The podcast accompanies a Folger Magazine story by Dickey on Lincoln, Booth, and Shakespeare in the spring 2009 issue.

 

Men of Letters podcast

 
 

Producer/Writer/Director: Richard L. Paul
Narrator: Gail Kern Paster

 

 
Abraham Lincoln ... Shakespeare applied to our national bereavement. Massachusetts, 1865



Folger Magazine

Stephen Dickey on
Lincoln, Shakespeare, and Booth



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Shakespeare in American Life: Lincoln



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