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Friday, January 31, 2014

Networking...For All Time

It has been a busy week here at the Rosenbach and for our colleagues at in the Rare Book Department at the Free Library. Here at the Rosenbach we've opened our new exhibit Networking Before the Net: Sharing Information in the Pre-Digital Age, while at the central branch they have opened Shakespeare for All Time in their new rare book department exhibition space.

Farrar Fitzgerald and I hiked up 20th street to take a look at Shakespeare this afternoon and had a great time.  The first item as you walk into the gallery is their First Folio, which was a gift from P.A.B Widener and Josephine Widener Wickfeld; it is shown right next to a Free Library memorandum explaining how Library board member Dr. Rosenbach wanted to surprise the rest of the board with the gift and asked for a book truck to be placed next to his chair at a trustee meeting.

One of my favorite sections of the exhibit was a case devoted to 18th-century editions of Shakespeare and the development of Shakespearean scholarship. Alexander Pope (the man in the lower center, wearing a banyan and turban), wrote a very famous edition of Shakespeare in 1725, and Lewis Theobald (shown writing at his desk, to Pope's right)  took him to task for his editorial liberties and errors the following year in Shakespeare Restored, or a Specimen of the many Errors as well Committed as Unamended by Mr Pope in his late edition of this poet; designed not only to correct the said Edition, but to restore the true Reading of Shakespeare in all the Editions ever published. The scholar at the farthest right of the assemblage, Edmund Malone, may be familiar to Rosenbach fans as the man who unmasked W.H. Ireland's Shakespearean forgeries.

I was also fascinated by this book: The Girlhood of Shakespeare's Heroines, written by Shakespeare's first female editor, Mary Cowden Clarke. Apparently the book "trace[s] the probable antecedents in the history of some of Shakespeare's Women" and was aimed at a female audience. My interest was definitely piqued and I'd love to spend some more time with this one.

There's much more to see--images of Shakespearean actors (including Henry Irving and Junius Brutus Booth); illustrated editions by Arthur Rackham, Rockwell Kent, and others; material relating to Dickens's productions of Shakespeare; and lots of other fantastic stuff. So go check it out!

There's also plenty to see in the Rosenbach's new Networking exhibit. Where else can you find a discussion of 18th-century broadsides and modern Facebook walls...

...and a discussion of 17th-century fart jokes going viral...

..and take your own carte-de-visite style photo?

So come check us out as well! We hope to see you soon.

Kathy Haas is the Associate Curator at the Rosenbach Museum & Library.

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