Acclaimed Library Photographer Robert Dawson Publishes New Book About the Folger

Press Contact

Garland Scott
(202) 675–0342

Folger to Host Book Launch Party June 11

Washington, DC—Photographing Shakespeare: The Folger Shakespeare Library is a new, extraordinary book on Shakespeare, his plays, and the inner workings of the Folger Shakespeare Library by a nationally recognized husband-and-wife team, Robert Dawson (photographer) and Ellen Manchester (curator). Dawson and Manchester were granted full access to the library for this project, which has been in the making for years.

Photographing Shakespeare includes more than 150 incisive, beautiful, and often close-up images of the Folger's arts, outreach, teaching, and research programs and the delicate work of its highly trained book conservators. Dawson's images also depict topics that might seem too difficult to capture, such as the birth of ideas, the scope of digital research, and the staff and visitors' connection with Shakespeare and his works from Macbeth to A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Photographing Shakespeare book cover

The book's remarkable photographs are accompanied by distinctive new essays: an introduction by Folger Director Michael Witmore; writer Jennifer Howard's exploration of the Folger's human side; a meditation on life, death, and the library by Stanford art historian Alexander Nemerov; and an essay by poet and playwright Afaa Michael Weaver on the ways in which Shakespeare's works live on. Daniel De Simone, former Eric Weinmann Librarian of the Folger Shakespeare Library, edited the book.

Hear what inspired photographer Robert Dawson and curator Ellen Manchester and the insights they gained from their time behind the scenes at the Folger. Author talk and book signing.

Monday, June 11, 2018 at 7pm
Free; reservations required.
Pre-order the book when you reserve your seat online at a special launch price of $35.95


"I look at the people who work at the Folger and see a crowd keeping Shakespeare company. So many people have played the characters in his plays, so many have recited his poems. If everyone ever touched by Shakespeare's work were to gather across the barriers of time, life, and death, the noise of that conversation would make the seas rise."

            —Afaa Michael Weaver, poet, playwright, and scholar
            From "Minding the Bard," in Photographing Shakespeare

Published by Lucia Marquand, May 18, 2018   |   Hardcover, 136 pages


ROBERT DAWSON, photographer, is the recipient of a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, a Fulbright Global Scholar Fellowship, a Creative Work Fund grant, a Graham Foundation grant, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and a Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize. His books include The Public Library: A Photographic Essay (2014); Farewell, Promised Land: Waking From the California Dream (1999); and A Doubtful River (2000), among others. Mr. Dawson's photographs are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Smithsonian's National Museum of American Art. The Library of Congress has purchased his archive of 680 prints, negatives, and field notes from the Public Library Project. He is retired from San Jose State University and has been an Instructor of Photography at Stanford University since 1996.

ELLEN MANCHESTER, curator, is an arts administrator, photography curator, and project director. She and Robert Dawson were co-directors of the Water in the West Project, a collaborative venture with 11 photographers that addressed water issues in the American West. She has served as a guest curator for the Oakland Museum, the de Young Museum (San Francisco), The Ansel Adams Center, and numerous nonprofit galleries and art centers.


Folger Shakespeare Library is the world’s largest Shakespeare collection, the ultimate resource for exploring Shakespeare and his world. The Folger welcomes millions of visitors online and in person. We provide unparalleled access to a huge array of resources, from original sources to modern interpretations. With the Folger, you can experience the power of performance, the wonder of exhibitions, and the excitement of pathbreaking research. We offer the opportunity to see and even work with early modern sources, driving discovery and transforming education for students of all ages. Join us online, on the road, or in Washington, DC. Learn more at

Press Contact

Garland Scott
(202) 675–0342