Through the publishing house Octavo, the Rare Book Room currently has over 400 digitized books available to read online. Many of the books are beautiful examples of the histories of print design, typography, and illustration.
You can search by subject such as literature (where you will find Shakespeare’s work), graphic arts (including a work by Bodoni), music (mostly Beethoven and Mozart), or photography (the Pennsylvania Railroad Photographs from the 1870s are here).
Many of the libraries that hold the original materials are right here in Philadelphia! In the drop-down menu for Find by Library, check out The American Antiquarian Society, The American Philosophical Society, the Ewell Sale Stewart Library of the Academy of Natural Sciences, The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, The Library Company of Philadelphia, the Rosenbach Museum & Library, and the University of Pennsylvania Library.
Please note that you will have to allow pop-ups on your web browser to use the site.
This week, we’ll look at some websites and open-access journals that focus on the authorship question surrounding Shakespeare. Who was William Shakespeare? Did someone else write his works or contribute to them? Why consider whether the unschooled Shakespeare was really the playwright? As Shakespeare biographer Samuel Schoenbaum notes, “there is something incomprehensible about genius. Shakespeare was superhuman.”
Others believe Christopher Marlowe wrote much, if not all of Shakespeare’s work. The International Marlowe-Shakespeare Societywas created by a group of scholars who have published works arguing in favor of Marlowe as our Elizabethan bard. They also have a terrific blog that keeps up to date on the controversy, citing excellent resources.
However, not everyone believes Shakespeare is too good to be true! Shakespeare Authorship is “dedicated to the proposition that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare.” Designed much like a blog, Shakespeare Authorship refers to the readers to online resources intended to prove the author.
For the month of April, we’ll look at some wonderful open-access (aka free!) resources on William Shakespeare, who was born in April 1564 and died in April 1616! This week, I’ll share some websites that give a general overview of the famous bard’s life and writing.