Not of an Age, but for All Time
Shakespeare at the Huntington
By Jane Purcell
San Marino, Calif.: Huntington Library, 2005
Hard back: ISBN: 0873282019 Price: $12.95
This is a pleasing book for anyone with an interest in Shakespeare’s life and works. Jane Purcell, a high school teacher, offers far more than a handbook or guide to the Huntington Library’s Shakespeare holdings. The book’s eighty-five pages contain ninety-eight illustrations—including the inevitable title-pages and portraits, as well as art inspired by the plays and modern-day photographs of the library. Purcell’s command of Shakespeare scholarship comes through on every page, but the knowledge is worn lightly and served up with a palatable style.
The chapters cover Henry Huntington as a collector; the authorship controversy; Shakespeare’s life, works, and sources; “bardolatry”—the idolization of Shakespeare; and fakes and forgeries.
Purcell’s book is a good model for libraries to follow, as it is a publication that successfully straddles the generic divides between a monograph, an in-house guide, and an exhibition catalog.