by Joseph O'Connor
Registration for this event opens Tuesday, September 13, 2022 at 4pm.
"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, the early modern era, and the holdings of the Folger Collection.
This informal Book Club is free and open to all. Our picks range from historical fiction to adaptations of Shakespeare's plays, encompassing a wide variety of genres—all sourced from a different local, independent bookstore partner each month.
To spark the discussion, Folger staff open each meeting with a brief presentation that provides historical context, trivia, and connects the book to relevant items from the Folger collection. Participants are then broken into smaller groups for breakout discussions, moderated by a team of staff and volunteers.
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.
Our October Pick
Shadowplay by Joseph O'Connor
Shadowplay by New York Times best-selling author, Joseph O’Connor, is set during the golden age of West End theater in a London shaken by the crimes of Jack the Ripper.
Henry Irving is Victorian London’s most celebrated actor and theater impresario. He has introduced groundbreaking ideas to the theater, bringing to the stage performances that are spectacular, shocking, and always entertaining. When Irving decides to open his own London theater with the goal of making it the greatest playhouse on earth, he hires a young Dublin clerk harboring literary ambitions by the name of Bram Stoker to manage it. As Irving’s theater grows in reputation and financial solvency, he lures to his company of mummers the century’s most beloved actress, the dazzlingly talented leading lady Ellen Terry, who nightly casts a spell not only on her audiences but also on Stoker and Irving both.
Bram Stoker’s extraordinary experiences at the Lyceum Theatre, his early morning walks on the streets of a London terrorized by a serial killer, his long, tempestuous relationship with Irving, and the closeness he finds with Ellen Terry, inspire him to write Dracula, the most iconic and best-selling supernatural tale ever published.
A magnificent portrait both of lamp-lit London and of lives and loves enacted on the stage, Shadowplay’s rich prose, incomparable storytelling, and vivid characters will linger in readers’ hearts and minds for many years.
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, critical and performance histories, and the ways in which they inspire and are adapted by contemporary novelists.
Henry Irving and Ellen Terry were two of the most famous Shakespearean actors of the 19th century. Shadowplay explores the theatrical world in which they operated, including glimpses of their Shakespeare performances, while simulataneously exploring the genesis of another seminal work in Western literature through Stoker's writing of Dracula.
Order Your Book
This month, we are thrilled to partner again with 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.
Orders can be placed online, or at any of the locations throughout DC—Connecticut Avenue NW, The Wharf, and Union Market—which are now open to customers. Click here for more information about operating hours and curbside pickup.
Learn more at politics-prose.com.