See a First Folio in 2016! Be part of "the great Variety of Readers!"

The Folger Shakespeare Library is sharing their First Folios with all 50 states in the USA, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico

The First Folio will be coming to New Mexico in February, 2015, and will be displayed at the New Mexico Museum of Art, near the Plaza in Santa Fe! 

The Folger Shakespeare Library, along with the support of the American Library Association, the Cincinnati Museum Center and the National Endowment for the Arts, will be sending First Folios out across the United States and to Puerto Rico from the Folger's Washington, DC, home base. The Folger Library web site has information about the Folger First Folio Tour, which shows locations and dates, and you can enter an address or view the full list to find a Folio near you. (The Folger's home web site is here.)

There are many exciting events surrounding the arrival in New Mexico of one of the First Folios. These folio collections contain thirty-six of the plays in the Shakespearean canon and include a dedication to "the great Variety of Readers." New Mexico proudly has a great variety of people, and many of us consider ourselves a part of that great variety of readers! The exhibit at the New Mexico Museum of Art is titled "First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare." See the museum's web site at: <NMartmuseum.org/shakespeare/> . The rumor is that the First Folio will be opened to the page that has Hamlet's famous question: "To be, or not to be . . ." 

For more information about the First Folio and the evolving events happening in New Mexico, see the International Shakespeare Center Santa Fe web site: <InternationalShakespeare.Center>. The opening night reception in Santa Fe is on February 5, starting at 5:30 P.M. at the New Mexico Museum of Art, 107 West Palace Avenue, and it is free. It definitely will be the place to be. See you there!

DeBaytable: “A Woman Wrote Shakespeare”

That there are at least two sides to every issue is debatable, and this is as as it should be.

• A recent blog post that concerns itself with the Authorship Question and Mary Sidney is worth reading: DeBaytable.com, authored by Don Bay. Take a look and make a nice comment!

• While considering the topics of debate, exploration, wonderment and assumptions, I was recently given a copy of Tina Packer’s new book, Women of Will: Following the Feminine in Shakespeare's Plays (Knopf, 2015) and it is with energetic enthusiasm that Ms. Packer explores the insights of a remarkable author in relation to what is called “the Feminine in Shakespeare’s plays” and if one can get past all the speculation, which is a major and amusing part of this fun book, much of what she writes is actually rather a wonderful support for Mary Sidney as author or main editor of the works sometimes still attributed to Shakespeare.

At one point there is this: “In order to understand better what happened to Shakespeare’s writing of women, we need a context for his life . . . I don’t know if everything is accurate in this account, but I am dealing with events in the way Shakespeare dealt with events—taking the events themselves and using them to stimulate the imagination so a story can be told.” In the section titled “The Plague Years,” there is mention of Mary Sidney and her circle at Wilton. 

Have a good time stimulating your imagination with speculative assumptions, so that stories can be told, and then reconsider those assumptions . . . they are debatable.

The Mary Sidney Society has a Facebook page

Portrait of Mary Sidney by John Tollett (detail)

Portrait of Mary Sidney by John Tollett (detail)

The Mary Sidney Society has recently started a new community Facebook page.

You can access it using the link below:

https://www.facebook.com/TheMarySidneySociety?ref=hl

We are posting information about Mary Sidney, quotes from the plays of 'Shakespeare', historical facts and relevant news stories.

We welcome your comments and thoughts about Mary Sidney, her family and associated literary topics. (Even if you are just lurking, please 'like' the page.)

Do Women Write Better Than Men?

A fascinating survey about the difference between female and male writers has come to our attention. Out of 3,000 respondents, the survey says that women are generally regarded as superior writers.  This comes as no surprise to us! 

            The questions asked about character development, plot development and grammatical structure – all hallmarks of the works of ‘Shakespeare’. While there are many male writers we adore, we are convinced that Mary Sidney was highly adept at character development, plot development and grammatical structure. 

            The poll comes to us courtesy of Grammarly.  For those of you who don’t know, Grammarly is a piece of software that scans writing for grammatical hiccups.  It’s a pretty strong tool and is widely used by college students. You can give it a try here

Enjoy!

 

18 and 81

Considering the mirror reflection of 18 and 81, I was reminded of those two sonnets which refer, amongst other things, to death and breath, and the eternal and immortal power of poetry:

 

SONNET 18

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate:

Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,

And summer's lease hath all too short a date:

Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,

And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;

And every fair from fair sometime declines,

By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimm'd;

But thy eternal summer shall not fade

Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;

Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,

When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st;

  So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,

  So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

 

SONNET 81

Or I shall live your epitaph to make,

Or you survive when I in earth am rotten;

From hence your memory death cannot take,

Although in me each part will be forgotten.

Your name from hence immortal life shall have,

Though I, once gone, to all the world must die:

The earth can yield me but a common grave,

When you entombed in men's eyes shall lie.

Your monument shall be my gentle verse,

Which eyes not yet created shall o'er-read,

And tongues to be your being shall rehearse,

When all the breathers of this world are dead;

   You still shall live (such virtue hath my pen)

   Where breath most breathes, even in the mouths of men.

 

And who is writing these life-giving sonnets? I think the pen belongs to Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke.

Another mystery dinner guest

Seems as if there are quite a few people interested in who would show up if the author of As You Like It, and others of the supposedly "Shakespearean" plays, were invited to dinner.

The June 15, 2014, issue of the New York Times Sunday Book Review's "By the Book" written by John Lahr is an interview with Hilary Rodham Clinton, the former secretary of state and author, and in it she is challenged: "You're hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited?" and her answer is singular: "I'd choose to have one guest for a long dinner: William Shakespeare. I'm curious to see who would show up and what he really wrote."

(You can read the interview by clicking here.)

Of course, I'm thinking that Mary Sidney, the learned writer and politically savvy Countess of Pembroke, would make the most appropriate guest under these circumstances, with a slight adjustment in the pronoun department. And Mary Sidney would be much wittier than you know who  -- we have proof that she got out and about a good deal and was an admired part of the literary scene in England, whereas we have not one verified instance of Mr Shakespeare's literary involvement anywhere.

Literary Guilty Pleasures? Dinner parties?

John Paul Stevens and his favorite genre

"Writings about the authorship of the plays attributed to William Shakespeare" is the answer former Supreme Court justice and author, John Paul Stevens, gave in answer to questions about his bookish guilty pleasures and favorite reading material. 

His literary hero (heroine?) is "the author of the plays attributed to William Shakespeare" and he is also a fan of A. Conan Doyle. 

Stevens stated that if he were to host a literary dinner party he would invite "the author of the Shakespeare canon" along with Clemens and Dickens. (That would be a terrific party although I'd replace Dickens with George Eliot; just imagine the conversation with Mary Sidney, Mary Ann Evans and Mark Twain!)

His comments appeared in the April 6, 2014, Sunday New York Times Book Review

16th Century Society Conference, October 2014

New Orleans, USA,

October 16-19, 2014

***

The Sixteenth Century Society and Conference is a non-profit scholarly organization which will hold its 2014 conference in New Orleans, LA.

To see a draft program, click here.

Two sessions of particular interest will be presented by the International Sidney Society within the conference: "Penshurst and the Sidneys: Literature and History" and "Wilton's Countess: Poetry and Patronage." The latter session will look at the relationship between Mary Sidney's patronage of poets and her own work. (Here is a link to the Sidney Society blog: <http://www.sidneysociety.org/?page_id=18>)

The conference will take place at the Astor Crowne Plaza New Orleans French Quarter Hotel.