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Shakespeare Unlimited podcast

The Actor and the Assassin: Edwin and John Wilkes Booth

Shakespeare Unlimited: Episode 114

Actor Edwin Booth was one of the 19th century’s biggest stars. One of the illegitimate sons of equally famous actor Junius Brutus Booth, he made thousands of dollars touring America’s grandest theaters and playing Shakespeare’s greatest roles.

But today, relatively few people have heard of Edwin Booth. Instead they remember his brother—also an actor—named John Wilkes Booth. That’s because on April 14, 1865, John Wilkes assassinated President Abraham Lincoln.

The Booths’ story is like one of Shakespeare’s tragedies, with an unstable father, a rivalry between brothers, and an ending that changes the course of history. To learn more about the Booth brothers and their tumultuous lives, we talked to Nora Titone, resident dramaturg at Chicago’s Court Theatre and author of 2010’s My Thoughts Be Bloody: The Bitter Rivalry Between Edwin and John Wilkes Booth That Led to an American Tragedy. Nora Titone is interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.

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From our Shakespeare Unlimited podcast series. Published February 5, 2019. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved. This podcast episode, “My Brother, My Competitor,” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer. We had technical help from Andrew Feliciano at VoiceTrax West in Studio City, California, and Shelly Steffens at WBEZ Public Radio in Chicago.

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MICHAEL WITMORE: There’s a statue of William Shakespeare in Central Park in New York. The money to build it came, for the most part, from the sale of tickets to a performance of Julius Caesar in 1864. Now, if I told you that there’s a direct link between that statue, that performance, and one of our country’s most notorious murders, would you believe me? And would you keep listening? Let’s find out.

From the Folger Shakespeare Library, this is Shakespeare Unlimited. I’m Michael Witmore, the Folger’s director. That Julius Caesar production I mentioned featured three members of one of America’s best-known theatrical families. Across the United States in the 19th century, the name “Booth” was synonymous with Shakespeare performance at its highest level. First the British actor, Junius Brutus Booth, and then his son, Edwin, earned applause, rave reviews, and thousands of dollars primarily performing Shakespeare in America’s grandest theaters from 1821 until 1891.

But Junius Brutus Booth also had three other sons by his American wife. Joe Booth had a mental illness and rarely left his mother’s home. Junius, Jr. performed mostly in obscurity in the saloons and mining camps of Gold Rush California.

And then there was the youngest son, John Wilkes Booth, best known as the man who assassinated Abraham Lincoln.

Historian Nora Titone tells the story of the Booth brothers in her book, My Thoughts Be Bloody: The Bitter Rivalry Between Edwin and John Wilkes Booth That Led to an American Tragedy. She stopped by the studio recently to talk. We call this podcast episode “My Brother, My Competitor.” Nora Titone is interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.

BARBARA BOGAEV: Well, this story starts with the patriarch of the Booth acting family, Junius Brutus Booth. Not all of our audience perhaps knows of him. He was the leading Shakespearean actor of his day, in the early 19th century. What was his story? What do we know about his style onstage, particularly when he was performing Shakespeare?

NORA TITONE: Well, what’s so extraordinary about Junius Brutus Booth—and it’s so sad he’s so forgotten now—was that he fit in with this Romantic movement in England at the time that Lord Byron belonged to, where there was this group of artists in London who were keen to explore the deepest and most remote recesses of human emotion and experience. You could do this through poetry, you could do this through literature or philosophy, and Junius Brutus Booth was the dramatic version of that. He brought something to the interpretation of Shakespeare that British audiences had never seen before.

BOGAEV: Right. You’re right that he was volcanic and that he was like a lightning bolt. Walt Whitman said he was just, like, an alien, and there was something transformative about him. Was it this emotional intensity that he imbued his acting with?

TITONE: There was this volcanic, you know—People said he would hurl lightning bolts from the stage, or inspire whole audiences to have kind of conniption fits of ecstasy as they were watching him, you know? I sometimes think we could compare him to some of the great American rock musicians who have that kind of electrifying and charismatic effect.

BOGAEV: What do you mean? Like Bruce Springsteen?

TITONE: Exactly! Exactly. That he could just whip up a frenzy in a crowd using Shakespeare’s words. But what was really amazing about him: he specialized in Shakespeare’s villains, and what was uncanny and marvelous about watching him perform is that he would gradually become Shakespeare’s worst monsters.

BOGAEV: Well, let me pick up on that, because the flipside of this, though, is you describe mood-swings that make it sound like he was perhaps mentally ill.

TITONE: Oh, yes. I mean, he was a remarkable figure in many ways. He was a prodigy from the earliest age. By the age of three, he was speaking Latin and Greek, and as he advanced in years, he acquired even more languages: 10, by the time he was a teenager. Then, of course, this was long before psychology, as a field, had emerged, and so it’s really interesting to try to understand what afflicted him that made his life so difficult and fueled his genius as a performer.

At one point, even, when he was playing in Boston, he was playing King Lear, and he got so wrapped up in the moment that he broke down in the middle of a performance and said to his audience, “I’ve gone mad. Take me to a lunatic hospital.” And he would kind of break through the fourth wall and need to stop acting and go away, or run away even, off the stage. He attempted suicide several times, once famously jumping off a steamboat into the Atlantic Ocean. He had a volatile emotional life.

BOGAEV: He was born in England as you said.


BOGAEV: And Junius Booth came to America to escape a scandal, actually. He was married to Adelaide Booth in England. She was his wife, and they had a son, but then he had an affair with a young woman and he got her pregnant, and they fled to start a life together in the New World. But his first wife, I mean, this was just amazing, had no idea about his second family.


BOGAEV: Or his more than 10 other children for, it sounds like, decades. I mean, how did that happen? That’s some secret to keep.

TITONE: It, you know, and it’s so interesting that you should ask that, because I think it’s the keeping of this immense secret that also exacerbated the stress and pressure of his, kind of, mental state. So exactly as you said, he ran away with her to America, leaving his wife, Adelaide Booth, and his son, Richard, in a mansion in London. He assured them that he was just going to the United States and he would send money, hundreds of thousands of dollars in today’s currency, back to London to his wife and son.

But in the meantime, as you say, he had a partner, Mary Ann Holmes, and they, together, had 10 children. He hid her away in rural Maryland and together they reared this family in secret. Because Booth truly was Junius Brutus Booth, a celebrity of the first order, newspapers would report about him wherever he went, so he couldn’t travel with the love of his life, Mary Ann Holmes, the mother of his 10 American children. He had to hide her away and keep the children’s identities secret as well.

BOGAEV: It’s at this point that we get to your thesis, really, that the key to understanding why Junius’s son, John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Lincoln might have as much to do with his upbringing, and also with a rivalry that he had with his brother, Edwin, and just family resentments and family stresses than it does with his political beliefs. Let’s unpack this part of the story.


BOGAEV: And first, I have to say, I didn’t really know much about John Wilkes Booth’s older brother Edwin until recently. Did you?

TITONE: It was startling. I had never heard of Edwin Booth, and, you know, studied American history for years in college. I found him in a diary kept by Fanny Seward, the daughter of William H. Seward, Lincoln’s Secretary of State. She wrote about a visit that the great actor, the most famous Shakespearean actor in America, Edwin Booth, made to her family home in Washington, D.C. during the Civil War. He was an honored guest for dinner, and he was in Washington to give command performances for President Lincoln and Mrs. Lincoln.

BOGAEV: Because he was the famous actor of his day.

TITONE: He was. He was.

BOGAEV: And yet—nothin’!

TITONE: Yes. You know, he’s been lost to us now, overshadowed, of course, by his younger brother. And let it be said: a younger brother who was not a talented actor. But when you say that we can’t understand what drove John Wilkes Booth to do what he did in Ford’s Theatre in 1865 without fully exploring the remarkable saga of the Booth family, you’re absolutely right.

I mean, this was a political crime for sure, but it was also the crime of someone who came of age in a family of actors, who grew up in the world of the theater, and who, for his entire life, was in the shadow of his enormously famous father and his even-more-famous older brother.

BOGAEV: Right, and we’re getting ahead of ourselves a little bit.


BOGAEV: But I do want to pick up on that, because the other thing that’s hard for us to understand now is just what an outcast you would have been in the 19th century as a child of an actor.

TITONE: Oh, you’re absolutely right, and it’s so interesting that, you know, the Booth family had two strikes against them. I mean, not only were they actors, the Booth children also had another strike against them: they were illegitimate, and that was publicly known. There was a great scandal in the American newspapers when Junius Brutus Booth’s legal wife, Adelaide, finally found out the secret. She came to America in a fury from London, and sued Booth for desertion and having committed adultery and having had a second family.

And it was also, to add to the fact that Junius Brutus Booth, their father, was mentally unstable—

BOGAEV: —And he drank.

TITONE: He drank heavily. He was a notorious drunk. He was an adulterer. All of these things made the Booth children—and let’s remember, they didn’t have the legal right to that last name—outcasts.

BOGAEV: Right. Now let’s hone in on this rivalry between the brothers.

TITONE: Oh, yes.

BOGAEV: Because that is fascinating. You suggest that Edwin and John Wilkes, they didn’t even get along as kids, right from the beginning.

TITONE: It was a classic case of sibling rivalry. Junius Brutus Booth, in part, can be blamed for setting up this rivalry, in a way. He considered himself a genius. He wrote extensively in his journals about his powers and how amazing he himself was. So, of course, narcissistically, he examined his children for signs of talent like his own. And while John Wilkes Booth was a perfect physical copy of his father, he didn’t have a single spark of, kind of, the actor’s gift, and that was evident from an early age.

Edwin Booth, who bore no physical resemblance to his father—he much more resembled his beautiful mother, Mary Ann Holmes—did have that whatever-it-is that allows a theater artist to be transcendently effective on stage. He had it from day one.

BOGAEV: And this is maybe why, in addition to the fact that Edwin was four years older than John—


BOGAEV: That Junius, the father, decides that Edwin is the genius in the family, and he takes him on tour—really to be his caretaker, because he’s out of control, especially when he drinks, and he drinks all the time. It’s to make sure he doesn’t get too drunk too often, and so Edwin, just 12—


BOGAEV: This assignment lands on him. You write that this was a turning point for both brothers.

TITONE: Absolutely. Imagine idolizing your father, and the father announces, “I’m taking one of my sons with me to tour nationally.” It was a 2,000 mile circuit they traveled every year, on the theater circuit, north, south, east, and west.

BOGAEV: And hugely dangerous.

TITONE: Hugely dangerous.

BOGAEV: Dangerous and it really took a toll, physically.

TITONE: Oh, absolutely. This was long before railroads would make this easy. It was by steamboat, horseback, carriage, and often on foot. You know, to be the caretaker of mentally-unstable theatrical star was not an easy task. For a 12-year-old boy, Edwin accomplished it extraordinarily well, but it really divided the brothers, because on Edwin’s narrow little back depended the financial survival of his brothers, sisters, and mother.

At this point, John Wilkes was in boarding school. Edwin resented being taken out of school. He resented being put in servitude to his father, and he imagined his brother, John Wilkes, having a life of ease at a boarding school in Maryland. But what happens is these boys get put on two different tracks. John Wilkes is being raised by the family to be a gentleman of leisure, whereas Edwin, as grueling as his indentured servitude was to his father, is learning how to be an actor. He said he imbibed through his ears every night, as his great father went on the stage, all the roles of Shakespeare.

BOGAEV: Right, so he gets this great apprenticeship in theater, and John Wilkes Booth, who also wants to be an actor, is stuck in a boarding school and he’s terrible at school. Okay. Now, a second big turning point in this story comes when Edwin just has had enough. He quits being his father’s caretaker. He’s 19 years old and strikes out on his own.

TITONE: This is another flashpoint in the family’s history. Junius Brutus’s real wife comes, she sues him for everything because she finds out about his family, and she impoverishes Junius Brutus Booth, Mary Ann, and their surviving children. To repair the family fortunes, there’s only one thing to do. The year was 1851, and the best place for an actor to earn money at that time was the newly established state of California, where gold had been discovered, and actors flocked from the East Coast, around the isthmus of Panama or across the isthmus of Panama, up to San Francisco.

That was the scheme that Junius Brutus Booth and his son Edwin hatched to repair the family fortunes. They make this arduous journey and they get to San Francisco, and that’s where the father/son relationship really falls apart.

When the time comes for them to end their California tour, Edwin says to his father, “Go back alone. I want to stay here and try to be a leading man in San Francisco in my own right.” Of course, Junius Brutus Booth is too proud to argue; he packs his bags full of gold dust, he gets on a steamboat, makes the journey back across the isthmus of Panama. Without his watchdog and guardian, Edwin, he falls into trouble, all of his profits from California are stolen, and he dies on a steamboat.

BOGAEV: It’s really a tragic story. I mean, here you have Edwin. After his father’s death, he blames himself for the death, but he kind of goes off. He doesn’t even know about it for months, because he’s in a traveling troupe and he’s finally free. It’s his great moment, actually. But later, he really torments himself, and it becomes part of his great burden to carry, and perhaps contributes later to his becoming an alcoholic.

In the meantime, you have John Wilkes Booth stuck in this life he doesn’t like, resenting his brother, and also growing up an outcast, because of his father’s disgraceful profession as an actor and also because he’s been outed as an illegitimate child. And he suffers publicly, the whole family does, all sorts of humiliation of that.

Despite all of this, John Wilkes Booth tries to become an actor, and this is where the story of this rivalry really picks up, because Edwin, the older brother, who by now is tremendously successful, instead of helping him, he forbids John Wilkes Booth from taking the stage anywhere near where he’s appearing. He has this idea, like, “We can’t overload the American theater public with Booths.” And, in fact, he splits up the country into territories, and he gives his older brother, Junius Junior—by the way, there are three actors in this Booth family. Junius, Edwin, and John Wilkes. He splits up the country, gives Junius Junior the West, gives John Wilkes the South, and keeps the North. You know: New York; Washington, DC; Boston; the most populous, lucrative cities. He keeps them for himself. How clear is this to his brothers, that they’re being cut out of the good territory, and how does this contribute to this story of family rivalry and family resentment leading to violence?

TITONE: Oh, it’s an extraordinarily bitter division. John Wilkes writes about it as though he’s been disinherited from a future of greatness that he could have had. Edwin is being really smart here. The theaters in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, that’s where you go to make a great living as an actor. The theaters in the South are spread far apart, you have to travel hundreds of miles to get from, you know, New Orleans to Richmond, and they’re smaller, and the currency there is different. John Wilkes was never trained as an actor. He had no ability, and his performance on stage was enough to embarrass Edwin.

BOGAEV: He was a terrible actor.

TITONE: Oh! He was—

BOGAEV:—I mean, that just has to be said, right?


BOGAEV: He was just terrible, but he seemed to have been big and strong and be a good sword fighter, so he had that going for him.

TITONE: Oh, yes.

BOGAEV: Right?

TITONE: I mean, he was fantastic to look at.

BOGAEV: Can you give us an example?

TITONE: Of course. The newspapers of the 19th-century theater critics delighted in coming up with ways to talk about how John Wilkes Booth murdered scripts and disastrously performed. They really talked about his lack of elocution—you have to remember that Junius Brutus Booth grew up in London. His son Edwin sounded like a British national; he spoke in Received Pronunciation, that heightened, beautiful English accent that we come to expect with Shakespeare performances. John Wilkes sounded like a kid who grew up on the streets of Baltimore. Let’s see if I’m looking at one of these wonderful—

BOGAEV: Take-downs.

TITONE: —and scathing reviews. John Wilkes “mispronounces many words which he articulates distinctly. There is no possible excuse to be found for saying toe instead of to, entruls for entrails, humanuty for humanity, or for turning Henry into Hen-er-y. These errors in style are grievous, and they are not trivial.” And he compounded this by hurting his fellow actors. He would never learn his lines, so in order to generate excitement on stage, he would improvise a lot of physical violence. He would just substitute frenzied sword-fighting while kind of roaring out the words of the monologue as he remembered them.

BOGAEV: And Edwin does not help his brother, for many reasons, not least among them how bad an actor John Wilkes Booth is. But Edwin does arrange for the three brothers, Junius, Edwin, and John, to perform together just once, and that was in 1864, November. It’s a benefit performance to raise money to build the Shakespeare statue in Central Park in New York. Just briefly describe this, and the significance of it.

TITONE: Well, it’s truly—you know, you talk about the bitterness among these three brothers that this should have been a benefit performance to support the impoverished John Wilkes Booth and the impoverished Jun Booth. Edwin, at this time, is the 19th-century equivalent of a millionaire. He owns two theaters, one in Philadelphia, one in Manhattan. His brothers are struggling to even get by. It’s a huge sold-out event. They do Julius Caesar.

BOGAEV: At Edwin’s theater, the Winter Garden.

TITONE: At Edwin’s theater, the Winter Garden. Exactly. This is the artistic event of 1864, and of course, by this time, Edwin, unlike his brothers, has started climbing that social ladder. He’s friends with people in the Lincoln Administration; he’s friends with Ulysses S. Grant’s aide-de-camp, Adam Badeau. So his brothers join him for this charity performance, and in the middle of this play, a fire company—

BOGAEV: And we should say that John Wilkes plays Mark Antony, and Edwin is Brutus.

TITONE: Edwin is Brutus, and their older brother, Jun, is Cassius. Fire companies break into the theater looking for smoke, and what has happened is that the Confederate Secret Service plotted kind of an act of terror in New York. Confederate agents fanned out across the city with tiny bombs made out of phosphorus and turpentine. The fire companies responding check the theater. They find no flames, but the next morning, as the three brothers are eating breakfast and reading the newspapers in Edwin’s opulent mansion in Gramercy Park, they read about this Confederate attack on Manhattan.

And this is where John Wilkes says, “Oh, the South was right to attack New York City,” and of course, when John Wilkes says these inflammatory things, Edwin explodes, and he throws John Wilkes out of the house, down the kind of grandiose steps of the front part of the building, onto the street, and says, “You’re never welcome in my house again.” It was an ugly scene.

BOGAEV: It’s a terrible scene, and as you describe it, I think it’s one that probably rings very familiar to many of us.


BOGAEV: I mean, this is not the only argument they had in which they were on opposite sides of an incredibly emotionally-charged issue, and it’s something that, if you look at today, it calls to mind, at least for me, the kinds of arguments that have been going on here in America over the last few years. I’m thinking, you wrote your book in 2008—

TITONE: Oh, for sure.

BOGAEV: So writing this story, was that the backdrop in your mind?

TITONE: Well, it was always interesting to understand how our history and our politics persist. I think it’s something that we can all relate to and understand, and it’s what makes the Booth family story so hypnotic for me. Reading their diaries, their letters to others, the political passions and how those political passions affected the family dynamic is so vivid and mesmerizing, but as you say, I was also kind of electrified and inspired to do it, because it is such a familiar experience for us in this moment.

BOGAEV: Why did John Wilkes stage the assassination in a theater? What is your thinking about that?

TITONE: Wow. Well, the evidence that we have about what was motivating him is fragmentary, but he knew Ford’s Theatre very well. His fellow actors, after the assassination, put it really clearly. Part of what was so hurtful—I mean, obviously, he’s killing, you know, the President of the United States—but to do it in a theater left a particularly deep wound among his fellow actors, because they said, “John Wilkes Booth used the tools of our trade to pave the way for the killing of a president.”

He knew the layout of the theater. He timed his entrance into the private box where the president was sitting to correspond with a particular moment in the play that evening, Laura Keene’s Our American Cousin. He knew when the laugh-lines were, when the applause lines were, and those sounds concealed the sound of his entrance. And even he fired the pistol when the applause line came and the big laugh cam—

BOGAEV: Also, jumping onto the stage was his signature trick, right?

TITONE: Oh, his signature choreographed move in the part of Macbeth. At the theater in Baltimore, also operated by John T. Ford, where he’d played the role Macbeth, leaping from 15 foot heights was, as you say, his signature move. He was also wearing his father’s spurs, costume pieces from Junius Brutus Booth’s Richard III costume, actually.

BOGAEV: Which is why he broke his leg. Yeah.

TITONE: The spur caught in the bunting that was draping the front of the private box, and that tripped him up and made him shatter his leg when he landed on the stage at Ford’s Theatre. But, the fact that everyone in the Theatre that night was startled by his entrance. . . they didn’t really know what it was. It was so theatrical, and it was so heightened in its gestures—you know, he started stalking across the stage, waving his dagger—that some people thought it was part of the night’s performance at first. And that also aided John Wilkes. It gave him more time to escape, because the awareness of what had actually happened didn’t settle in until a few beats had passed. Of course, we can speculate that, you know, the slaying… in his eyes, in John Wilkes eyes, of a tyrant is certainly a Shakespearean gesture. But that’s obviously speculation. What we do know is the mechanics of it, and only someone who knew the theater well could have carried off what he did that night.

BOGAEV: Well, you said everything except what I thought you would say.

[TITONE laughs]

BOGAEV: Which is that if you do it in a theater, you finally upstage your famous brother. Which he did. I mean—

TITONE: He did.

BOGAEV: Weirdly, at first, you say after the Lincoln assassination, Edwin got even more famous, though, as if proving the old adage that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

TITONE: Oh, and what’s so fascinating about how Edwin set about using that bad publicity is that immediately after the assassination, Edwin writes a public letter that is reprinted in most of the newspapers in the North, where he says, “In penance for my brother’s horrible crime, I’m going to retire from the stage forever.”

BOGAEV: Right. Then two seconds later, he’s unretired.

TITONE: And guess what opens at the Winter Garden less than six months after Lincoln is assassinated? Our American Cousin. There were howls of protest from a few places. Laura Keene, for one. The New York Herald editorialized about it a little bit, but an angry mob actually stormed the editorial offices of the New York Herald in protest after they dared to critique Edwin. He was so beloved that when he finally returned to the stage as Hamlet six months after Lincoln was buried, there were rapturous crowds thronging the streets. Police had to be called to control tens of thousands of people who came out to do honor to Edwin.

BOGAEV: A remarkable story, considering that right after the assassination, the rest of his family, many of the members of his family, including their mother, were imprisoned and under suspicion. Not Edwin, because he had friends in such high places, but here, he creates this huge gust of support for himself, amazing fame, great success. . . but in the end, we don’t know him now. We don’t recognize his name. We don’t know this story. Why did history so quickly forget this man, Edwin Booth, and why do we think of John Wilkes Booth? Was it by design? Because many people held up John Wilkes Booth as a great actor. It almost seemed like a campaign.

TITONE: I think one reason is that acting, by nature, is ephemeral. You have to see it live. Edwin’s power, once he died, was gone. But the scene that John Wilkes staged and executed in Ford’s Theatre, that tragic shock that kind of stands at the center of American history, a turning point that none of us can ever forget? That wasn’t acting. That was reality. And that’s what remains.

BOGAEV: And you see this as a Shakespearean story. Just a direct line between Shakespeare’s stories and their characters and the tragedy that surrounded the Booth family. How so?

TITONE: The plays of Shakespeare live in a universe where the fate of nations are held in the balance, where villains and tyrants contend with each other, heroes and doomed relationships, those are the currencies of Shakespeare. So it’s extraordinary that the Booth family, off-stage, enacted tragedies and dramas that so closely echoed the texts that they made their living performing.

BOGAEV: I think it’s really interesting that Edwin Booth was so known for humanizing Shakespeare’s villains.

TITONE: Yes. Yes. You know, his father was the great interpreter of the villains, and Edwin himself—when I was writing the book, I kept asking myself as I was writing, you know, “Is he a hero? Or is he something else?” He was a dark, vengeful, and complicated person, but also an artist, an idealist, an abolitionist. He had as many facets as a Shakespearean character, and so did his brother. They were larger than life. Flawed and powerful. It was really rewarding to think about the characters they both attempted to play on stage, and to always have that in mind as I was writing about them, you know, as they lived their lives.

BOGAEV: Well, this was just a lovely conversation, and such a wonderful story. Thank you so much for talking today.

TITONE: Thank you for your questions.

WITMORE: Nora Titone is the Resident Dramaturg at the Court Theatre and author of the 19th-century theater history My Thoughts Be Bloody: The Bitter Rivalry Between Edwin and John Wilkes Booth That Led to an American Tragedy, which was published by Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, in 2010. She was interviewed by Barbara Bogaev.

“My Brother, My Competitor” was produced by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. It was edited by Gail Kern Paster. Ben Lauer is the web producer.

We had technical help from Andrew Feliciano at VoiceTrax West in Studio City, California, and Shelly Steffens at WBEZ Public Radio in Chicago.

We hope you are enjoying Shakespeare Unlimited. And if you are, please consider rating AND reviewing this podcast on whatever platform you get the podcast from. When you do that, it helps us get the word out to people who haven’t heard it yet. We’d really appreciate your help.

Shakespeare Unlimited comes to you from the Folger Shakespeare Library. Home to the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, the Folger is dedicated to advancing knowledge and the arts. You can find more about the Folger at our website, And, if you find yourself in Washington, DC, please come and visit us on Capitol Hill. Take in a performance in our Elizabethan theater and come face to face with a First Folio – the first printed edition of Shakespeare’s plays. We hope to see you here.

Thanks for listening. For the Folger Shakespeare Library, I’m Folger Director Michael Witmore.