Mortimer Rare Book Room History

The Second, Third & Fourth Shakespeare Folios

Dorothy King and Shakespeare folios
Photograph (1961) from the Smith College Archives [Click on image to enlarge]

In the fall of 1961 the Rare Book Room at Smith received three 17th-century editions of the works of Shakespeare, a bequest by Charles McCamic in honor of his second wife Elizabeth McCoach McCamic, class of 1920. A beaming Dorothy King, curator of rare books, is shown here with the three large volumes, joined by Janet Adelman, class of 1962, and Charles J. Hill, professor of English. King wrote that the gift

adds a significant enrichment to the Library’s rare book holdings at this befitting time, when drawings for the new Rare Book Room are being completed. Probably no other work in the English language has received the peculiar bibliographical attention devoted to the Shakespeare plays. …. This gift, for which Smith is deeply grateful and rightfully proud, opens a new avenue of scholarly collecting, in the field of Elizabethan originals, a field only briefly represented up to this time.

 

Janet Adelman graduated summa cum laude from Smith with an A.B. in English and joined the faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, in 1968. She was an eminent Shakespeare scholar and pioneering feminist psychoanalytical critic. She died in 2010.

Modern photograph of Janet Adelman
reproduced from an online image.
[Click on image to enlarge]

Janet Adelman

Charles McCamic was a distinguished lawyer from Wheeling, West Virginia, and also wrote on literary and legal topics. He was a member of two notable private groups of bibliophiles, The Grolier Club in New York City and The Rowfant Club in Cleveland. Frances Smith McCamic Tinker, his daughter from his first marriage, graduated from Smith in 1929; her M.A. thesis (1930) was a study of the Restoration dramatist Sir George Etherege.

Shakespeare folio

Mr. William Shakespear’s Comedies, Histories and Tragedies … The Third Impression. London: Printed for P.C., 1664 [Click on image to enlarge]

The First and Second Folios of Shakespeare’s works were printed in 1632. Note that the title-page for this Third Folio states that seven plays have been added to this edition. However, modern scholarship has determined that only Pericles has any connection to Shakespeare. This book does include the famous portrait of Shakespeare engraved by Martin Droeshout.