Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folger
by Stephen Grant '63
“Stephen H. Grant provides not just a biography of the ‘onlie begetters’ of this astonishing library, but also an account of the worlds in which the Folgers lived. The result is a superlative book, one that ranges from Amherst College in the 19th century to the gilded age of Standard Oil to the glory days of high-end book collecting.” - The Washington Post
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In Collecting Shakespeare, Stephen H. Grant recounts the American success story of Henry and Emily Folger of Brooklyn, a couple who were devoted to each other, in love with Shakespeare, and bitten by the collecting bug.
Shortly after marrying in 1885, the Folgers started buying, cataloging, and storing all manner of items about Shakespeare and his era. Emily earned a master's degree in Shakespeare studies. The frugal couple worked passionately as a tight-knit team during the Gilded Age, financing their hobby with the fortune Henry earned as president of Standard Oil Company of New York, where he was a trusted associate of John D. Rockefeller Sr.
While a number of American universities offered to house the collection, the Folgers wanted to give it to the American people. The Folger Shakespeare Library provided Grant with unprecedented access to the primary sources within the Folger vault. He draws on interviews with surviving Folger relatives and visits to 35 related archives in the United States and in Britain to create a portrait of the remarkable couple who ensured that Shakespeare would have a beautiful home in America.