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The Collation

Something borrowed . . .


Did you ever wonder why or how we borrow items to show in our exhibitions at the Folger? Let’s use the upcoming “Shakespeare’s Sisters: Women Writers, 1500-1700,” opening on February 2, 2012, as an example. My colleague Caryn Lazzuri and I have been working on this exhibition for almost two years. As the curator of this exhibit, I’ll begin by talking about why we borrow, and Caryn will follow up on the “how” in her role as Exhibitions Manager.

The exhibition highlights English, French, and Italian women writers from the early modern period, but we wanted to frame it using the viewpoint of Virginia Woolf, who famously wrote of the difficulties Renaissance women faced as writers when she imagined Shakespeare’s sister in A Room of One’s Own (1929). Since the Folger itself does not collect Woolf, our first stop was at our friendly next-door-neighbor, the Library of Congress. There we identified first editions of A Room and of The Second Common Reader (1932), in which Woolf wrote about one of our early women, Lady Anne Clifford.