by Rivka Galchen
"What do you read, my lord?"
"Words, words, words."
About the Book Club
Join the Folger as we search the stacks for our favorite novels inspired by Shakespeare and the early modern era.
Held on the first Thursday of the month, this informal Book Club is free and open to all. Our picks range from historical fiction to adaptations of Shakespeare's plays and will be sourced from a different indie bookstore each month.
To spark the discussion, Folger staff will be on hand to provide historical context, throw in trivia, and speak to relevant items from the library collection.
Participation is free but registration is required. Sessions will be conducted through Zoom, so keep an eye on your inbox the day before for an access link, along with recommendations for quick bites and beverages to enjoy while we chat.
Register for the discussion
Our October Pick
Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch by Rivka Galchen
The story begins in 1618, in the German duchy of Württemberg. Plague is spreading. The Thirty Years' War has begun, and fear and suspicion are in the air throughout the Holy Roman Empire. In the small town of Leonberg, Katharina Kepler is accused of being a witch. When the deranged and insipid Ursula Reinbold (or as Katharina calls her, the Werewolf) accuses Katharina of offering her a bitter, witchy drink that has made her ill, Katharina is in trouble. Her scientist son must turn his attention from the music of the spheres to the job of defending his mother.
Drawing on real historical documents but infused with intensity of imagination, sly humor, and intellectual fire, Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch will both provoke and entertain. The story of how a community becomes implicated in collective aggression and hysterical fear is a tale for our time.
“Rivka Galchen’s smart, wry novel is a thought-provoking take on the proverbial witch hunt . . . Punctuated with sparkling wit and irreverent humor, [the novel] taps into the depths of who we choose to fear and why.”―Time
Why did we choose this?
The Folger Shakespeare Library's collection explores not only Shakespeare's life and works, but also the plays' historical context, source material, and critical and performance histories.
The notion of witchcraft and threats of the occult permeate Shakespeare's canon, from Macbeth all the way to Henry VI, Part 2, reflecting the fear of witches that gripped Europe in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch is based on actual accounts of Germany's Würzburg witch trials that occurred during this time.
Order Your Book
This month, we are thrilled to once again partner with our friends at Politics and Prose, DC's premiere independent bookstore devoted to cultivating community and strengthening the common good through books, programs, and a respectful exchange of ideas. Learn more at politics-prose.com.
Orders can be placed online, or at any of the locations throughout DC—Connecticut Avenue NW, The Wharf, and Union Market—which are open to customers. Click here for more information about curbside pickup and current safety protocols.
We would like to thank the following organizations for their generous support of this program: