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Drama in the Folger Reading Room

Author Nora Titone Shares Highlights from the Folger's Booth Collection

Nora Titone

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

Author Nora Titone of My Thoughts Be Bloody: The Bitter Rivalry Between Edwin and John Wilkes Booth That Led to an American Tragedy (Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, 2010) talks about her experience researching her book on the Booths at the Folger:


My visit to the Folger was a turning point in the writing of My Thoughts Be Bloody. Head of Reference Georgianna Ziegler led me through mountains of Booth material from the library’s vaults. The unique characters in this family of famous theatrical eccentrics and outcasts, the astonishing trajectories of their careers, the tragic incidents both public and private in which they were engaged, all sprang to life in sources as rich and varied as their love letters, diaries, poems, portraits, photographs, playbills, oral histories, acting contracts, bank statements, costume inventories, testimonies by fellow actors and friends, and a century’s worth of sensational stage reviews and celebrity press coverage.


Confronting this heap of evidence, I wondered if no other 19th-century American family had ever been at once more reviled and beloved than the Booths. Only John Wilkes, the villain of the group, is widely remembered now; but one hundred years ago, the name of his great father, Junius Brutus Booth, and that of his even greater brother, Edwin Booth, loomed as large.


Nora Titone shares highlights from the
Booth Collection at the Folger


Nora Titone studied American History and Literature as an undergraduate at Harvard University, and earned an M.A. in History at the University of California, Berkeley. She has worked as a historical researcher for a range of academics, writers and artists involved in projects about nineteenth-century America. This is her first book.

Read an excerpt

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The Booth Collection

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