Skip to main content
Shakespeare & Beyond

Top 5 Folger Finds of 2022

We’re always serving up treasures from the Folger’s collection on our social media pages with the hashtag #FolgerFinds. As 2022 comes to an end, we thought we’d look back at our five most popular #FolgerFinds posts on Instagram from the past year. Check out our top posts below, and search #FolgerFinds on Instagram to find even more delightful images from the Folger Shakespeare Library collection.

1. John Austen’s Illustrations for Hamlet

A selection of gorgeous art nouveau illustrations for Hamlet—pen-and-ink originals by early 20th-century illustrator John Austen—became our most popular post of 2022. Click the right arrow to scroll through all eight images.

2. Friget. It’s Cold.

This furry fella and his claw-footed brazier are wintertime goals. This illustration comes from Robert Farley’s 1638 Kalendarium Humanæ Vitæ (The Kalender of Man’s Life). Visit Miranda, the Folger’s digital asset collection, to explore more of the book’s charming seasonal woodcuts.

3. Julius Caesar

2023 marks the 400th anniversary of the publication of Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According to the True Originall Copies, a book better known as the First Folio. We sometimes call the First Folio the “Book that Gave Us Shakespeare.” That’s because 18 of Shakespeare’s plays had never appeared in print before the Folio was published. Without it, those 18 works—half of Shakespeare’s plays including Macbeth, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, and, of course, Caesar—would be lost to us. Whew! Thank goodness for the First Folio! We can’t wait to celebrate its big 400th birthday with you next year.

Related: Learn more about the Folger’s collection of Shakespeare First Folios.

4. Lady M

Yikes! Watch where you’re pointing that thing! Next on our list is Joseph Kenny Meadows’s portrait of Lady Macbeth, from Characteristics of Women, an analysis of Shakespeare’s heroines by 19th-century literary critic and art historian Anna Brownell Jameson.

5. A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Last summer, Folger Theatre built a theater from the ground up in the National Building Museum’s Great Hall and staged a hilarious production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We took the opportunity to take a peek at this book: a copy of the very first printed edition of Midsummer. Unlike Julius Caesar, this play was first published in 1600 as a quarto, a small book made by folding printed sheets twice to create four double-sided leaves, or eight pages.

See that bird on the title page? One of our eagle-eyed followers pointed out that it’s a halcyon (here spelled “alcione”), also known as a kingfisher. The image was the insignia of the play’s printer, Thomas Fisher. Artist Missy Dunaway writes all about kingfishers, and how Shakespeare incorporates them into his plays, in her Birds of Shakespeare series.

Want to see more? Follow the Folger Shakespeare Library on Instagram.