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tv   Tour of the Folger Shakespeare Library  CSPAN  April 17, 2016 2:15pm-3:16pm EDT

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which i think to some degree is boxed in as a female role, although she admits herself she's not a great candidate, is that she's almost become, like, the mom, you know? saying, no, we can't afford this, and bernie's like i want to buy the jet ski. [laughter] and so it's like, you know, she's the one always saying no, she's the one that's always limiting the dream, she's the one saying, no, this is what's achievable. she's a pragmatist, right in and that's a very female role to play, but it's also not terribly inspirational to an 18-year-old who wants to cast their vote for president and set the world on fire. as a somewhat older millennial, i don't know, maybe i'm in the older set of generation of women. it doesn't sound too terrible to me. it is something that's interesting. millennials do very much just assume that there'll be a female president in their lifetime. what they don't understand is why it has to be hillary clinton, and that's the case that she's failing to make to them right now. and, you know, to some degree if
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the nominee on the other side ends up being donald trump, i think the potential is that he ends up making that case for her. and that certainly has been -- if you look at the polls in recent, like, the last sort of swing states, the last five states that voted last week, she won all five in a surprise sweep that even her own campaign wasn't expecting, and a lot of that was based off women moving much more towards hillary and away from the republican primaries, frankly. but, i don't know, we'll have to see if she can actually make that case. it hasn't been made yet. >> but i think the bottom line too is if you are willing to go for the jet ski, how are you going to pay for it in and there's nothing that, you know, outlines things from an economic policy standpoint that connect all those dots in bernie's case. >> what about the macro, second part of the question, does the millennial expectation of
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equality have implications for the larger push for women, are they going to be giving up more than the older generation? >> that's another interesting question. so they, this generation is actually frighteningly, doesn't run for office. they don't vote, they tend to vote less, they definitely do not get involved in running for office. they are a very civic-minded generation, and that is a hallmark of my generation, but they don't get involved in public policies and public policy making, so they'll do a lot of nonprofit stuff, they'll do a lot of working for green companies or working for things like that, but they don't -- they really disdain washington. they disdain office. and i think that's a real problem for the gains that women have gotten in washington. because if you don't have a next generation to leave that to, then you really will see, you know, those gains retreat. they are much stronger, frankly, in the private sector, the millennial women, than they are in the public sector. so practice they might represent
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on a macro level, although it remains to be seen, more gains in that sector. i think, certainly, they are much more vocal, much more up and coming. when you look at silicon valley, for example, hollywood, for example, taylor swift standing up at the grammys says i want my recognition or jennifer lawrence saying i want equal pay. there are women in those sectors finding their voices that are very powerful. but it is striking that there are so very few millennial women in public life. >> or millennials in general. >> that's true. >> and i think millennials in general, especially college students, have been anathema to go and vote. i think there's this fundamental shift right now look at all the ones that are actually interested, which i think is really encouraging. but i say, you know, stay involved. stay tuned. volunteer on campaigns, because if you get that bug especially early on in a campaign, you're going to be hooked. and you really can make a difference. >> i think -- any other
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questions, or should we call it a night? >> thank you. i thoroughly enjoyed being with all of you with. she is a great friend. >> thank you so much, kay, for coming tonight. >> yes. >> it was so great to have your insight. >> thank you. [applause] >> and thank you, nyu. [applause] >> michael witmore, what is the folger shakespeare library? >> it was created in 1932 by henry clay folger and his wife, emily jordan folger. they had a big idea, which was the original sources for shakespeare in his world would be a value to everyone in perpetuity, so they collected those materials, and they put them here, two blocks east of the u.s. capitol, as a gift to the nation. >> host: why washington, d.c.? >> guest: well, they felt it was an international city, it's our capital and that this was really a truly national and
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international asset. so in addition to putting this marvelous collection here, they created this remarkable building which has the first north american tudor theater, it has the beautiful great hall that a we're in which is modeled on hampton court, and then another beautiful, almost medieval reading room. >> host: who were the folgers? >> guest: mr. folger was president of standard oil, and he made his fortune as an oilman. he then, while he was running standard oil, very quietly acquired the greatest shakespeare collection in the world, bar none. including 82 copies of the 1623 first foal e owe. >> host: okay. we're going to hear that term throughout this tour, first folio. >> guest: yes. >> host: what was that? >> guest: so it's a collection of 36 shakespeare plays that were published by two of shakespeare's friends who knew him. without that book, which was
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published in 1623, we probably wouldn't have 18 of shakespeare's plays including mcbeth and twelfth night and the winter's tale. it's probably the most studied single edition of a book in the world. and it's also a great connection to shakespeare, this writer that is still used by scholars today to understand his writings. >> host: so that was put together certain years after his death. >> guest: exactly right. >> host: and how many of those exist? how many were printed, how many exist in the world today? >> guest: there were probably 70 copies of the first folio printed, and there are 233 known copies of this book. one just with turned up last year in france. but the folger has 82 in its collection. that's by far the largest number in any one place. and the folgers collected the book because they knew that every copy is different. the printers corrected this book as it was printed, and then when
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they put the books together, they just took from this pile and that pile. so mr. and mrs. folger knew that if we wanted to get at the best version of shakespeare's plays in this book, we'd have to compare them. >> host: michael witmore here at the folger, are the items that you have displayed, are they open to the public? >> guest: yes, they are. >> host: such as the first folio? >> guest: anyone can come and see a first folio at the folger. we are free, and we are open to the public on holidays, but we were created in order to share this remarkable collection. and so that's what we do. >> host: and so do people come? how many people do you have come a year here? >> guest: so we have about 80,000 people come a year. and when you come here, you can see a first folio in the corner of our great hall. you can also see one of our exhibitions, you can see a shakespeare play performed in the first elizabethan theater in north america, and you can come
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into our reading rooms and request item withs from the hundreds of thousands -- items from the hundreds of thousands of items that we have in our rare collection downstairs. >> host: is the reading room restricted to scholars? >> guest: it's restricted to people who have a good reason to use the collection. so often that's scholars. but if you're not a professional scholar and you need to consult manager for a book you're writing -- something for a book you're writing, we would open our materials to you. >> host: is the folger czechs online? >> guest: -- collection online? >> guest: about 60,000 items, we would call them page openings from the collection, are online in these beautiful, high quality digital images. so one of our missions is to open that collection to people who want to visit us virtually. we're also starting a project to make searchable about 130,000 pages of our manuscript collection. so manuscript is handwritten material. it's hard to decipher, and we're inviting others to join in a crowd-sourcing initiative to
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look at some of those pages online, and then we will teach you thousand to decipher the writing. you'll decipher it, and then you're going to add to our collection. >> host: michael witmore, was william shakespeare well known? first of all, when did he live, when did he die, and was he well known? >> guest: he was born in the mid 16th century, and he died in 1616. that's why this year we're celebrating the 400th anniversary of his death. he was well known. there are hundreds of references to shakespeare that occurred during his lifetime. and one of the things we've done this year is to gather the documents that really connect us to shakespeare, the man, the talk of people about shakespeare whether it's in print or whether it's gossip that they've noted on a piece of paper. we wanted to get that all in one place. and so this year our show, called life of an icon, is our attempt to bring that together so that people really can see what an impact this writer had on the people around him. >> host: well, we are in the
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display hall right now -- >> guest: we are. >> host: what's the architecture of this hall, and then let's walk through the display. >> guest: what you're looking at is tudor great hall. it's the kind of room put in a large family estate. it's actually something you would use for exercise, that's why it's long. usually windows would be open to a garden, and you would put your painting collection in this room. that was actually what this room was designed to look like. but after 1932 we realized that full daylight is not good for rare materials. and so we decided to limit the amount of light in this space. and so it's different from what you would see in england, but it's still grand. you've got this very high ceiling, it's a city block length. it's also got tudor's trapwork on the plaster above. so it's a real -- >> host: would william shakespeare have been comfortable in this room, or would it have been familiar to
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him? >> guest: yes, he would. he would have known exactly what kind of room this is. and one thing we're learning about him, he did purchase a home in stratford called new place which is quite a fancy, quite a fancy pile in his hometown. and one of the things the archaeologists suspect that he did was knock down some of the bedrooms so that he could create a long gallery or a great hall. and he must have liked rooms like this. it was either he who did it or it was a member of his family. but he would have recognized this kind of room. >> host: well, let's look at some of the display items you have here. >> guest: sure. >> host: what have you got? >> guest: we're going to walk over first, i just mentioned new place which was this grand house in stratford. shakespeare actually needed to do something that we would call today i think a title search, which is to make sure that he had clear title to this property that he bought with the earnings he had from his theater career.
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and so we're going to go over here. these are two halves of something that is called an indenture. and when this document was executed, the two sides of the deal or agreement looked at either side which has the identical terms on each side. one is realize out aloud, and the other's checked to make sure that the terms of the deal are identical. and then the indenture is cut with a wavy line so that if there's ever a dispute, you say show me the other side of this, and we'll check it. but it was a fascinating early modern anti-fraud device that was used when shakespeare decided to check whether he had clear title to this property. and here is a third piece that was -- these two were kept by shakespeare and the other party in the agreement. shakespeare would have held one of these pieces of vellum in his hands.
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he would have kept it in his home with all of his other important -- >> host: basically a title to the house, in a sense. >> guest: an important document. and this is one of the things that he saved. >> host: did he sign it? >> guest: he didn't sign this because he didn't need to. the scribes had to create this other counterfoil which is probably in 400 years -- has probably in 400 years never been next to the original piece of vellum that it was a part of. this came over to us from london, and we're bringing these pieces together for the first time. and it's a nice symbol for what this exhibition is, because never have so many documents directly connected to shakespeare ever been in one place. and this is in centuries. and i doubt they will ever be gathered together again. so the ability to bring together a kind of congregation or fellowship of documents is this remarkable moment of connection with this writer. and that's why we really want to share it, because it's so precious to have this ability to show them. the other thing i would say is
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we've chosen to create online resource with the assistance and permission of our partners, almost 30 other institutions, so that we can show 400 of these documents in high quality digital images, and we've actually transcribed them so that you can search them. it's called shakespeare documented, and i think it will be the first and most important stop for people trying to understand shakespeare's biography. we've made this freely available with the help of our partners, and that's going to be one of the surviving kind of legacies of this particular initiative. >> host: what do some of your british partners think about the fact that the folger shakespeare library in washington, d.c. has the largest shakespeare collection in the world? >> guest: well, i think it's a mixture of feeling because this is their writer, but shakespeare is probably one of the most important if not the most important cultural export from great britain. shakespeare is a global phenomenon. there are more films made about shakespeare in india than there
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are in the united states and britain combined. so the ability to make the connection with the united states and to -- it's a way of embodying this ongoing relationship between the two countries turns out to be important. so we do have regularly diplomatic gatherings here at the folger; the british ambassador is often here, the ambassador's spouse customarity learns on our -- serves on our board. but it's important because it shows this ongoing cultural connection. the other thing i would say is that americans really discovered shakespeare in the 18th and 19th centuries and made this writer their own. he was like someone you could turn to when you were in uncertain times. you're trying to think about your aspirations or these tough decisions that americans were making after the civil war or during civil rights. and there's something about this writer, the way he tells stories, the way his characters
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are so vivid, the powerful language that meant that americans felt like they could just grab that and and use it themselves. and i think of shakespeare as the kind of uncle that we turn to when we need to have a conversation that we can't have with family, with our closest family. there's something good about the fact that shakespeare budget an american. he never came to this country. and that gives us a lot more latitude when we want to say i think this reminds me of macbeth or when we watch, say, "the house of cards," and we think, oh, that's macbeth, lady macbeth married to richard iii. or when a member of congress like senator byrd used to do will quote shakespeare on the floor of the senate. >> host: who was king or queen during shakespeare's life, and did that influence his writing? >> guest: shakespeare was a alive during the reign of queen
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elizabeth and the reign of king james i. and when those reigns kind of -- when the succession happened, a scottish king came. he used to be james vi, and shakespeare had to change his theatrical practice. now there was a different monarch on the throne, and he needed to flatter that monarch. for example, in the play macbeth there's a procession of kings, and when james watched that performance -- and we believe he did -- he would have been seeing his own ancestors in this play, and they would have reflected well on him. so shakespeare was really aware of his political audience. and that's interesting because we live in washington, and washington is a political city which you know so well. shakespeare was careful as a writer. he didn't want to offend his noble patrons or the monarch, but he also was such a good storyteller that he could get
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himself into territory that might have been uncomfortable for someone who was directly addressing the king or the queen. there's some things you just can't say to a monarch. but shakespeare wrote a play called richard ii about a monarch who has to give over his crown to someone who has forced him to be deposed. now, talk about a controversial idea. you couldn't suggest that about a sitting monarch, but you could show it in a play. and so shakespeare had a way of getting into that tricky territory by using storytelling and theater. >> host: what else do you want to show us here in the exhibit? >> guest: ing let me show you -- >> host: by the way, it's open to the public until march 27th. now, this may air after march 27th, but if people wanted to come and see this after march 27th -- >> guest: well, that's why we created shakespeare documented because that is an even more comprehensive record of this exhibition. there are 50 very rare documents
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in this exhibition physically, but there are 4 to 00 items on shakespeare documented, so if you go to, you'll be able to see all of this material. >> host: great. >> guest: let me show you another item which i think is very interesting. over here we're going to have to watch out for the light here. this is a page of what many believe to be shakespeare's handwriting. it's called the sir thomas moore manuscript. it's written in something called secretary hand which is a particular type of scribal handwriting that shakespeare knew. it's also difficult to decipher if you haven't had experience looking at that type of writing. it's part of a play called sir thomas moore that we think shakespeare wrote because of style, and there have been computer tests to ask how much does this particular style resemble shakespeare or other candidates. but what's remarkable about it is it is a beautiful passage about refugees.
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and it's so timely. as you think about the e.u. struggling to accommodate all of these people who put their lives and their children on the seas in the hopes of fleeing a very dangerous place. the speech from sir thomas moore asks the question why would you put your family at risk and bet on the seas? when it turns out that staying on land might even be more dangerous. so we've got this marvelous, really powerful passage that was written by shakespeare on a piece of vellum that is possibly written in his own hand. it is one of the most valuable documents in the world. and we're very lucky to have this document here in the united states. it has never traveled out of the u.k., and it's here until the end of march. >> host: and now you say this document may have been written. >> guest: right. >> host: by william shakespeare himself. >> guest: yeah. >> host: why don't you know? does his writing exist anywhere? >> guest: that's a really good
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question. we have confidence that we have six signatures of shakespeare. >> host: in the world. >> guest: in the world. >> host: not at the folger. >> guest: not at the folger. the folger does not own any signatures. our colleagues in britain have different documents. they're legal documents that have shakespeare's signature on them. when you think about that, there are only so many letters in someone's signature. and when you sign your name, you may not sign it in the same way that you would write a letter to someone, because you do it often. that means that if you want to authenticate a whole page of writing and say that it's shakespeare's writing, you really only have a couple of letters to work with for your comparison. and for that reason, we would say that it is very tough to establish that a particular piece of writing is beyond a doubt by william shakespeare. but this is a very suggestive example. it's hard to rule it out, and it
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is stylistically, looks a lot like shakespeare, so we tend to think of it as one of those world treasures that just very well might be his hand writing. >> host: who was sir thomas moore? >> guest: so sir thomas moore was a humanist who was active in the 16th century, and he was catholic. he wrote the book that we now call utopia, so he thought about politics, he thought about rule. and he was someone that shakespeare knew from history and someone that he wrote about. >> host: and this here is part of a play, correct? >> guest: that's right. it's a play, and this is a speech from that play. the reason why the light is so low here is that for our own books and for the books of our lending partners, we have what's called a light budget. that means we will not expose a given item to any more than a certain amount of light, and we're constantly monitoring how much lighting is around this book. >> host: you're monitoring this in realtime? >> guest: we are.
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and we have computer readouts so that show us the average amount of light, when it starts, when it stops. because this writing, which is in a kind of iron gall ink, is going to fade if you put it under light. and the reason why we want to limit it is we want people to be able to read these pages centuries from now. >> host: where's the monitor? >> guest: the monitor is under that particular -- >> host: okay. >> guest: and the readout -- >> host: does an alarm go off if our crew put the light right on -- >> guest: we would know, and we know enough about our collection to say we don't allow flash photography in this space. and when you do illuminate an item, we just limit the amount of time. it is important, peter, for people to see these. and so as an institution that takes care of these treasures, we're always thinking about the trade-offs between providing access and then saving the item. >> host: i want to ask you about this. who wrote the plays, the authorship question, did william
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shakespeare from stratford upon avon really write all these plays? that's fascinated people, you write, since the 19th century. >> host: so people have been debating shakespeare's authorship for over a century. we see no reason to doubt that he was the man from stratford, the son of a glover, a man from the countryside, who then went to london and became a very, very successful writer. it's really hard to explain the quadruple lightning strike that was william shakespeare. how could someone be so good at reading human emotions, how could he be so well read about everything that was happening in the world? how could he do this political balancing act? how could he be so successful in the theater at a moment when that was the industry that was kind of developing in london? so he is a remarkable figure. and i think his outsized effects on the world have created a lot
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of passionate interest in who he must have been and what his life must have been. so we actually have a lot of information about him in comparison to other people who lived during the period. and that's why we've assembled these documents. but it's interesting to us that there's always something more you can learn about this writer. and even in the course of assembling this exhibition, our curator has discovered errors in how letters were transcribed, she's asked basic questions such as what's on the back of that piece of paper? where did it come from in and those questions, which are the kinds of questions that an experienced document person would ask, someone who knows a lot about handwriting and how people created and stored documents, has led us to take a really long look at this record. it's probably the first me anyone has looked at almost all of the evidence. at once.
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so so we feel very confident that shakespeare was the man from stratford. but we are also a resource for people who are curious about this writer. and you don't have to swear an oath of allegiance when you come in to use our collection. there are plenty of things that you can still find. our collection is still not fully explored. so we welcome people who may think in their hearts that this was the early of oxford or christopher marlowe or francis bacon or queen elizabeth i. inquiry into these documents is always good. >> host: what do you say to folks like me or others who are not terribly dim, but haven't been able to access shakespeare? understand him? >> guest: you know, i would say two things. first is you can access shakespeare. and he may know more about you than you do yourself. there was an editorial in "the new york times" today about
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importance of the humanities, and one of the things this writer said was that they're insights into who we are -- there are insights into who we are and how we think that shakespeare captured. he put them on as plays. so plays are the oldest interactive art form we have. they're participatory. and if you can see one of these plays, you will see people you recognize. now, maybe you'll only understand 20%, 30% of the language. join the club. the language is 400 years old. it's beautifully dense, and it's got lots of really energetic expression. even if you only get that 20%, that 20% is fantastic. and you may already know some of it, because so many phrases that shakespeare used are actually already in our vocabulary. and that's one of the great
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things about this writer, is he somehow managed to get boo our bloodstream -- into our bloodstream. once those words became famous on stage, people repeat them. and, you know, you could hook at a political headline, joe biden has his ham let moment. is he going to join the race or is he not? well, that's a really famous play. and even though you may not have read hamlet really carefully, you understand that biden has this heart-searching decision to make and that it's a big one. >> host: are you a shakespeare scholar? >> guest: i am. so before i came here, i was a professor and i taught shakespeare classes to undergraduates and graduate students. i've written several books about shakespeare's plays. one of the reasons why i came to the followier is because this is -- folger is because this is a great place to share what is so exciting about the humanities. and i hope i write more about shakespeare in my career. but here we are two blocks east of the u.s. capitol.
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our middle name is shakespeare. he's the most widely-read author on the planet, and we can show people why this writer's ideas and characters and stories till matter. >> host: you've mentioned the reading room. why don't we go on in. >> guest: we're going to have to be quiet because active readers are working here. this is late medieval or renaissance architecture. on one side we have the seven ages of man, that's a speech from as you like it. and the patterns in the stained glass are modeled on the stained glass in the crch of shakespeare's hometown in stratford. and then on this far side we have a bust of shakespeare which is, again, a model of the one from trinity church where he is buried. and then just below it is a brass plaque. behind that plaque is the ashes, are the ashes of mr. and
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mrs. folger. and this is very interesting because that makes -- [inaudible] exactly right. that makes them the only people who are buried on capitol hill. and that is important because we are a republic, and we don't bury americans next to the seat of power as is done in westminster abbey. we like to keep people away from the center of power, so so it's kind of ironic. but because they owned the building and this was their gift to the nation, they chose to have their ashes maced here. >> host: -- placed here. >> host: what goes on in this room, and who can access it? >> guest: so this is a room that is filled with researchers who are working with our original source materials. and they're coming from universities, they're writers who are writing books for the trade press, but they're digging in. i mean, i like to think of people in this room as going on a 400-year submersion dive. and one of the most amazing
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things about this space is you'll look around, and you'll see someone who's got their head down just go -- and that person is surfacing from a four century dive into the past and just kind of emerging. but the intensity of the connection and the imagination you've got to have to reconstruct this world, i always find it so inspiring. you can't really show it because it's happening in here, but it's happening. >> host: michael witmore is, if a tourist came by and wanted to pick one of these books off the shelf, is that possible? >> guest: you could come for a tour on saturday afternoon and see this space. but if you really want to handle the collection, we would need to give you permission. >> host: and what does it take to get that permission? a couple letters -- >> guest: two letters of reference to say this person really does need to use the
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collection. but we realize that it has to last another four centuries. so we should have a a good reason to take et out and use it. >> host: well, there's a lot in this room, but you've got some hidden stuff that you're going to show us. >> guest: i am. >> host: down in the vault. >> guest: i am. thank you, betsy. >> host: you're signing out the keys. >> guest: i am signing out the keys. >> host: she's the keeper of the keys? >> guest: betsy is the keeper of the keys. no one receives keys unless they need to go down to the vault, and no readers in this space will be going to the vault, because we provide readers access of the vault in aics-year space -- in a suggestion-year space that we need -- six-year space that we need to control very carefully. >> host: i see you have a friend here with you. >> guest: yes. officer baylor is here, and
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he'll be walking us down. >> host: security. so we're going below ground now, correct? >> guest: we will be going several floors below ground level. we have a vault that runs almost the full length of a city block. and that is where we keep our rare books and our manuscripts. >> host: now, michael, were all the manuscripts that we're going to see, were they collected by the folgers during their lifetime? >> guest: they started the collection, but we as an institution have been collecting for around 08 years. so it is -- 80 years. so it is a growing and dynamic collection. there's more to find. we acquire it and give it to scholars or take pictures of it and put it online. >> host: that's quite the door. >> guest: we are nowt the vault. >> host: literally at the vault. >> guest: this is the 1932 bank vault door which is extremely heavy. i don't think i could start it
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moving unless i had help. we're going to pass through now -- >> host: and this is usually not open, correct? >> guest: officer baylor just opened it with his keys, and i have my own. when we need to get out. >> host: we'll bring our crew here. and that's garland, who's been helping us. >> guest: we have the whole team here. >> host: oh. >> guest: there we go. >> host: so we're going to go, peter, right into this elevator which will take us yet another floor below. >> host: so let's give everybody the experience of what it's like to go into the vault. >> guest: and let me take this to dixie. one of the amazing things about being in this space is, in addition to being chilly and highly controlled, it's also within, you know, only several
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hundred yards' walk from this spot are, for me, probably 95% of the documents i are read in -- i will read in my working life. for a shakespeare scholar or someone who studies the renaissance, once you're standing here you have to contemplate your mortality, because so much that you could read. and, in fact, peter, you know, a book that could be so important to me could just be 15 yards down here on the right, but unless i know it's there, i will never see it. and so everyone who comes and works in this collection faces that challenge. there's an infinity of doors and pathways you could go down in your research. and the challenge is to resist all of those opportunities or almost all of them and just take the ones that really matter to you. >> host: now, i presume there are cameras on us at this point. >> guest: yes, there are. >> host: besides the c-span camera. >> guest: there are. [laughter] i'm going to turn on the light here.
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we control this space for temperature and humidity. one of the challenges for rare materials is that we need to keep them dry, and that's one of the threats to rare materials. a major threat to a book is to, for it to get wetment and, in fact, one of the ways we deal with that threat is were there to be a water incident, we would freeze the books. and that's because it's easier to thaw a book out page by page and to control how those materials are changing than it is to make a quick pile and hope that they don't get any more wet. so we have protocols for how we would deal with that particular type of emergency or mold, which would be another threat to rare materials, or smoke or fire. but that's something that we actively plan for. >> host: michael witmore, have you ever had an incident like that here at the folger? >> guest: we have not had an incident like a fire, but we did have a leak in our underground vault, and that was a real threat to our collection. we had to move collection
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material, and then we needed to insulate this vault because there was -- turns out there was an underground river that was going around that area. so the vault had to be resealed, and we actually received some money from the federal government, from the institute for museum studies and libraries, to help us make that transition. so that helped save our czechs. >> host: what -- our collection. >> host: what are you going to show us today? >> guest: i'm going to show you several items that i thought you and your viewers would enjoy. the first one that i'll start with is a first folio. that's this here. >> host: now, can you show the cover? i'll let you do the touching here. this is, again, the first folio that we talked about, published seven years after his death. >> guest: direct. >> host: this was published in 1623. it's the most complete single sol yule record of shakespeare's works, and it's important that his friends assembled it because they probably had a better idea of what shakespeare thought was important. and they actually did a wonderful thing. they said here are the three
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types of plays, comedies, histories and tragedies, which helps us. this is an engraving, it was, it's part of the book. it's missing from some copies. it's very valuable in and of itself. but benjamin -- [inaudible] who knew shakespeare says this is a likeness of that man, and this is important because it's, once again, one of those person-to-person familiar connections to shakespeare. and so we would say that this has real authority as a likeness of this writer. >> host: so if 82 folios in the shakespeare collection, correct? >> guest: correct. >> host: how many worldwide again? >> guest: 233. >> host: 233. if somebody wanted to buy one, what would it cost them? >> guest: well, there are very few first folios in private hands, and complete first folios can go for somewhere between $5-$6 million. is so it's a very valuable book. >> host: and currently you have first folios going around the country. >> guest: we do.
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well, one of the things we realized is that it really matters when you come face to face with one of the sources of shakespeare. so we realized that we could safely take a first folio to all 50 states and to two territories, which is what's happening now. and the response has been just tremendous. someone proposed marriage, successfully, on the occasion of the first folio's visit in oklahoma. someone, there's a jazz funeral for shakespeare coming in new orleans -- >> host: a jazz funeral? >> guest: a jazz funeral for shakespeare. there's a great indie rock band that is doing a concert for the first folio in duluth. so the ways people react are very different, and we've been inspired by the fact that people want to see this book face to face. >> host: what else do you have? >> guest: let me show you a smaller version of a shakespeare play. this is what's known as a cordo, and you might wonder why we call this a folio and this a cordo.
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folio means a single sheet of paper has been printed on one side and then the other, and then the bookmaker folds that sheet into a set of choirs, and then they're sewn together. but it's one fold. a cordo is actually folded twice. and then you cut the edges so that you can thumb through them. this is a smaller format, it's cheaper to produce, but half of shakespeare's plays appeared in this format before the first folio was printed. so that means there are multiple editions of shakespeare's plays, and there are real differences between the cordo and the folio editions -- >> host: you mean in the language? >> guest: in the language and also some of the stage action. so here we are mr. william shakespeare, his true chronicle history of the life and death of king lear and his three daughters. in the first folio, this play is not described as a history, but as a tragedy.
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so if you're creating an edition of this play, you have to decide for yourself what to call it, because there are two conflicting versions of what this play is. if you're doing an edition of hamlet, you've got several cordo editions and then the folio, and in one of those editions to be or not to be speech reads to be or not to be, aye, that's the point. it's so different from the one that rewe recognize. -- we recognize. and that's because there were different ways of capturing the performance and, you know, perhaps that version is from a series of scribes who were transcribing it in the audience in realtime. scholars are really interested in that, and they should be, because ultimately you want to create editions of these plays, because people want to read them. and so one of the things that's happened at the folger is that we've created the folger editions using this collection. it's the best selling high school edition in the united
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states, and almost 90% of american high school students are reading a shakespeare play. but what we've found was that we could also share these plays online. so we put them into digital form, and they are now freely available, all of the plays and all of the poems from the folger edition, which means we've put a copy of the complete works of shakespeare in every person's backpack all around the world. >> what's your favorite play? >> guest: i have two favorite plays. my first favorite play is twelfth night because i think it is a beautifully built play. each little bit works, it's colleague clockwork. i love the main character, viola, who is this very -- she's a great improviser. and that's what gets her through the tough spots. so i think that's a great virtue. i like her. i love the winter with's tale. that's a -- winter's tale.
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that's a play that was written late in shakespeare's career, and i think it is a really beautiful play that is really meant for adults, although it sometimes feels like a fairy tale. and it tells the story of why people should continue to have hope for love and reconciliation and forgiveness even if experience tells them it's probably not going to happen. >> host: michael witmore, to be or not to be, that is the question. what does that mean? where's he going with that? [laughter] >> guest: i actually struggled with that because i had to write the panel for our traveling exhibition. i think what hamlet is saying there is i wake up every day, and every day i have to ask myself why do i keep going. and that's a question that deserves some careful attention. and i think any person who has made it to this point in their lives where they can ask big questions has to at some point say what is it that makes me get up? and what are -- why is it that i
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would keep going when i very easily could become a person who doesn't exist anymore? now, maybe the -- maybe that speech is about suicide, maybe it's just a kind of thought experiment that he's doing. i tend to think it's a thought experiment. but he's really talking himself into keeping going with life. and it's really interesting, because you're hearing a very smart person talk himself through that decision, and it's almost as if you're able to overhear the process that he goes through to make that decision. ..
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people need to look at the real thing. you can learn so much by looking at a digital scan, but upstairs you'll find people who have handled 100 books or 500 early modern bugs and to be able to do the paper and ink and how it's annotated gives us this
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information is like if you do eight job interview face to face versus telephone you would prefer face to face because there are so much more information there and that's exactly the same way with historical material. the more you work with them, the more you get a sense from a feel and touch having to put together , so we will move around a bit more. this is a copy called the bishops bible. this is queen elizabeth the first bible. this was given to her by matthew parker and it was probably used it her chapel, so the readings during those celebrations in her chapel would have come from this book and you can see it has this beautiful red velvet cover and is clearly a very expensive book it has her identifying marks here, elizabeth regina saying
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she is the queen and you can also see on this side if the cameras can come in, this has actually been textured, so even the side has a set of patterns carved into it. when i think about this book, peter, this is the equivalent of a cathedral. in the sense that, it's tremendously complicated. about amount of learning and craft that you have to develop as a community to get to the point where you can create a book like this is just tremendous and that's why it's created in this way because it's given to elizabeth and it's a monument-- it's not made out of stone, but it's fabulously comp located object and you have to learn how to sit tight and handle classical languages because some are greek and latin and all of that learning goes into creating this.
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>> host: when you see this beautiful-- i want to say print or maybe you tell me what it is, the colors are still so vivid 400 years later. >> guest: this is a wonderful example of hand colored or tinted early modern prints. this is an atlas, latin title here. the theater of the world or global and you have got these figures representing africa here another figure here. you have got pretty grisly stuff down here and then you have got probably something like the god of wisdom on the top or a monarch who has got the scepter-- actually, that's probably a monarch here. what study here is that they have made a beautiful printing used a copper plate that's been
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etched so it's a high-quality prints and then someone has hand colored the page itself and this addition is wonderful because the hand covering extends to every plate in the edition. so, it would just show you this one, this is a-- this is europe and some of this is known well and some is not known well, but you can see the cathedrals, national borders at the time it was created with the three kingdoms here. england, ireland and scotland and there is wales in the west. >> host: pretty accurate map. >> guest: pretty accurate and of course, the weight in which the atlantic world takes shape is through exploration mapping, so our collection holds a large quantity of items about that exploration moment, which includes the moment when jacobean's come to the united states, so you have got the colonies and jamestown.
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that is really shakespeare's world planting itself in north america and that's a complicated history. is part of the history of this country and also part of what was good and bad about colonialism. >> host: was william shakespeare rare of the new world? >> guest: yes, he was. when he wrote the tempest he clearly read a pamphlet about a shipwreck didn't bermuda, but he makes reference to stories about the new world that were coming back and so he never visited it. he probably had information about it, but when he uses a phrase like brave new world, he is saying there is this place that we have not explored of overturning our expectation about what human beings are like and what majors like. that's something that is kind of firing in his imagination. >> host: how about one more from archives here than i want to go
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to the theater. >> guest: good. so, this is a copy of the shooting script for henry the fifth. this was laurence olivier's film , 1945. this gives us olivier's notes to how he wanted this shot and it's interesting because the film, maybe you have seen it, is created during the second world war. here's the famous frame from one of the battle scenes. this was viewed as a piece of propaganda during the second world war because it's so stirring and so much of this play is quoted in support of the idea that england will be triumphant, but that is part of the history that we hold also with a library of record for, so any expression of shakespeare's work whatever the language is something we are interested in
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collecting and that means we even have a klingon translation of hamlet. hamlet has been translated into a lot of different languages. the language who created the klingon language said i need to create hamlet, so that is also in our collection. one more item i would like to show you because i think it's so important and perhaps my favorite item. this is perhaps my favorite item in the collection. this is a modest copy of shakespeare's poems from the 19th century. you can see his portable. you can keep this in your pocket. what's important about this copy, though, is that it's the copy that walt whitman kept his pocket. this particular book, which was inexpensive when purchased, i think represents the direct connection between the renaissance tradition and the kind of poetry that whitman and others were creating in the 19th century. so, this is really one of those reasons why the two cultures are
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connecting and it's a important reason why this collection is here in washington. >> host: we very much appreciate you sharing this with us and our viewers, let's go up to the. >> guest: great. >> host: michael which more, is this in any way a public institution, so what is your budget, employees, how are you funded? >> guest: we are a public institution and the congressional record-- i will to you a story about our kind of birth certificate. when mr. and mr. is bolger wanted to create this library they bought the property from ms. parson which is next to the jefferson building. he learned in the "new york times" that congress was about to take over this whole block for the purposes of another building for the library of congress and he wrote to the library and said i have a collection of shakespeare
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material that you could not afford to create. it is the best in the world and it is my intention to make a gift to the american people of this collection. so, the library and went to congress and said we need to exempt that part of the parcel so the folgers can build this library and in the congressional record it says that the folgers have created an institution that is dedicated to the public. it also says that they are doing the work that even the library of congress at this point cannot do. so, we were born as an institution that serves the nation, but what's interesting about us is we don't have federal funding. mr. and mrs. folger greeted an endowment for us, but because we are not a college or university we cannot charge tuition and because we are not a federal institution we don't get federal funds unless it's a grant, so that means we have to be
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self-sustaining and about half of our 19 million-dollar operating budget comes from that endowment, a little more and then we raise or the rest of that budget, so florida p is really important and it gives us the ability to really be the public institution we were created to be. we have about 120 full-time employees. are building was probably created for a quarter of that, so we really do have space, needs and one of our challenges is to keep this growing collection herein to share with the public. >> host: michael whittemore is the direction of the folgers' shakespeare library and on april 23, saturday, joint book tv live from the folgers theater we will be here covering their program on the 400 anniversary of william shakespeare's death then we will also take your calls on shakespeare saturday, april 23.
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>> here's a look at authors recently featured on book tv's, our week-- weekly author interview program. jc watts talked about the guiding principles he follows in his professional and personal life. professor and former chairwoman of the us civil rights commission mary frances berry explored the history of voter fraud and the suppression. nancy: discuss the challenges women hasten politics and the potential of a woman president. in the coming weeks on afterwards sue cleanable, mother of columbine high school shooter doing people will discuss mental health and recall how she dealt with the tragic. aol cofounder steve case will discuss how emerging technologies will reshape the internet. also coming up, peter marks will tell us about the career of the late aig ceo, who turn the company around during the height of the financial crisis. this wed


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