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Shakespeare & Beyond

Nora Titone shares highlights from the Folger's Booth collection

Edwin Booth's 100th Hamlet performance
Edwin Booth's 100th Hamlet performance

Nora Titone, author 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), was recently interviewed on the Folger’s Shakespeare Unlimited podcast about the Booth brothers and their family story. To accompany a fall 2010 Folger Magazine article excerpting the book, Titone talked about her experience researching the Booths at the Folger and shared highlights from the Folger collection.

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.


[…] The Bitter Rivalry Between Edwin and John Wilkes Booth That Led to an American Tragedy. This earlier blog post includes Titone’s highlights from her research for the book in the Folger […]

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