Shakespeare and His World

Shakespeare portrait“‘While Thy Booke Doth Live’: Shakespeare and His World”, an exhibition marking the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, has opened in the Chapin Gallery (Sawyer 406) and will be on view through October 11th. Its title is taken from a poem by Ben Jonson which appears in the famous 1623 First Folio collection of Shakespeare’s plays.

Drawn from the rich holdings of the Chapin Library, the exhibition features works by Shakespeare in original editions, including all of the Folios, the 1640 edition of Shakespeare’s Poems, and late 17th-century printings and adaptations of some of his plays. Also in the display are books which put Shakespeare in the context of English history and the theatres of London, works he used as source material for his plays, such as Holinshed’s Chronicles of 1577 and the 1579 North translation of Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, and writings by his contemporaries, such as Thomas Heywood and Christopher Marlowe.

Williams is fortunate to have many great books from the time of Elizabeth I and James I. While other institutions have borrowed a copy of the First Folio from the Folger Shakespeare Library to display during this anniversary year, the Chapin Library has had all four of the Folios, as well as the important second issue of the Third, in its collections since its founding, thanks to the generosity of Alfred C. Chapin, Williams Class of 1869.

Also on view, in the Steven Schow ’81 Gallery (Sawyer 455), is a selection of late 18th-century prints from John Boydell’s famous Shakespeare Gallery portfolio, depicting scenes and characters from Shakespeare’s plays.

The exhibition galleries of the Chapin Library and Williams College Archives are open to the public, free of charge, Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. – WGH

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