Monday, February 25, 2013

Video Clip of Folger Shakespeare Library First Folio Number 72

Shakespeare, William. Mr. VVilliam Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies: Published According To The True Originall Copies. London: Printed by Isaac Iaggard and Ed. Blount, 1623. [Folger Shakespeare Library First Folio Number 72.]

This is the reason I was particularly interested in calling your attention to Folger Copy 72 in my last post: it is the First Folio I was able to examine at the Folger Shakespeare Library when I was there in 2011.

I was drawn to this copy because of a name that is written on the verso of the frontispiece: Rachell Paule. The possibility of an early female reader of Shakespeare making markings in a copy of the First Folio—possibly revealing something of what one woman thought about Shakespeare—was too intriguing not to investigate. Alas, there were very few marks of any sort whatsoever in the volume.

But, of course, it was thrilling merely to be able to hold a First Folio, to glance through it, to search for the traces history had left on it, to contemplate its provenance—and to read portions of it!

To give you, dear readers, a sense of what that was like, I've put together this video of part of my encounter with Folger Shakespeare Library First Folio Number 72:

Music Credit: Strauss, Richard. “Also Sprach Zarathrusa.” Perf. Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Cond. Karl Bhohm. 2001: A Space Odyssey: Music from the Motion Picture Soundtrack. MCA Records, 1986.


e meritus prauf said...

Exciting to be there for the dramatic opening! The National Gallery has three etchings of Rachel Paule (née Clitherow) 1617-1691. Could this be she?

kj said...

Thanks, e meritus prauf!

That may very well be. The Clitherows were a well-known, very wealthy family. If this is the Rachell Paule whose signature is on the book, her father was Sir Christopher Clitherow, who was a member of the East India Company and, in 1635, Lord Mayor of London.

I wish I had time to investigate the possibilities. Did the Clitherow family become connected to the Barons Forester (the fourth of whom is the earliest owner of this folio that can be traced)? Scholars with more time and greater knowledge may wish to pursue this line of thought!

I do wish Mrs. Paule had been a bit more copious in her marginalia—though her lack of notes does make Folger 72 a nice, clean text to study.

Thanks for the link to the etchings!


e meritus prauf said...

Perhaps this is another line of approach. The man the lovely Rachell married at age 19 was William Paule, an Anglican cleric who was made chaplain to Charles I in the early 1630s and was bishop of Oxford from 1663 until his death in 1665. He had been married twice before, in 1632 and 1635. After being widowed a second time, he married Rachell Clitherow, almost certainly in 1636. That's as far as I can go using the online DNB. Maybe someone with First Folio expertise can trace 72 back to one of these two families.

kj said...

Perhaps it's time for one or the other of us to write to Eric Rasmussen to see what his thoughts are. At this point, the folio's movement between the Clitherows and the Barons Foster is likely to be speculative at best--but nonetheless interesting!


Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
All material original to this blog is copyrighted: Copyright 2008-2039 (and into perpetuity thereafter) by Keith Jones.

The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and, for your sake, / Am I this patient [b]log-man.

—The Tempest