Men of Letters: Shakespeare's Influence on Abraham Lincoln

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Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president, was known for many things. Freeing the slaves. Winning the Civil War. Holding the Union together. But he was also one of our most literary presidents. Of the three books that sat on his White House desk, one of them was the works of Shakespeare—a writer Lincoln cherished throughout his life. He enjoyed going to the theater, too, which in his day often meant Shakespeare.

UCLA professor of English Stephen Dickey, John Andrews, editor of The Everyman Shakespeare, and Michael Bishop, founding Executive Director of the Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, discuss Shakespeare's enduring influence on Lincoln—and on Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth. Alan Simpson, a United States Senator from Wyoming for 18 years, talks about why Shakespeare continues to occupy such a special place in the hearts of political leaders today.


© 2009 Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved.

Producer/Writer/Director: Richard L. Paul
Narrator: Gail Kern Paster

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