J. May Liang and James Lintott

Gift: $1 million to sponsor a Shakespeare First Folio

J. May Liang is a member of the Board of Governors and the Wonder of Will Campaign Committee. She and her husband first encountered the Folger years ago after bidding on a private Folger tour at a charity auction. “We brought my husband’s English teacher there because she was an inspiration to him,” she says. May will become chair of the Board of Governors in June 2019.

In deciding which First Folio to adopt, it was fitting that J. May Liang and James Lintott selected the one first purchased by Henry and Emily Folger c. 1893 – Folger Folio 55 – since they were the first donors to commit $1 million to the Folger's efforts.

Inspiration for supporting the campaign

“What I love about this project is that it is designed to ensure people understand how Shakespeare is relevant to the 21st century. My role is to encourage and support Director Michael Witmore’s work and vision, and really help the Folger become the best of itself. And the best of itself I think is to communicate the importance of the humanities to society, the importance of talking together and talking to everyone whether they share your perspective or no. It’s also to communicate that however you come to Shakespeare—whether acting in a play, watching the plays being performed, reading the sonnets, reading the plays—that there is something to be said for the beauty of the language, the universality of the themes, and the optimism for the future.”

Shakespeare and the Folger

“Shakespeare is accessible to everyone – all ages, all ethnicities – and the themes that Shakespeare writes about are universal. He writes about love, friendship, loyalty, revenge, power—all of that is applicable today and will be applicable four hundred years from now.

The Wonder of Will is about family, about introducing Shakespeare to everyone. My kids were in middle school and high school when we first got truly involved in the Folger, and I think their understanding of Shakespeare and hopefully of life is deeper and richer because of it, and that's what I hope The Wonder of Will does for everyone.”

Photo: Elman Studio