Shakespeare News: New First Folio Found in France
There are many things that we can be thankful for: food, friends, family, and for Shakespeare scholars, the discovery of a new first folio in France.
The book has been in the possession of the St. -Omer library since it was donated from the library of a now-defunct Jesuit monastery. The original owner appears to be someone named “Neville,” who, it is already being speculated, was actually an English nobleman who came to study with the Jesuits in France in the early 1600’s since it was illegal for Catholics to study at English colleges.
Some are speculating that this means that Shakespeare was a secret Catholic at a time when Protestantism was the only religion in England.
There has been a great deal of debate about whether Shakespeare was indeed Catholic. However, even though this book is an exciting find, I am not at all convinced that it shows Shakespeare to be secretly Catholic.
The only link that this particular First Folio has to Catholicism is that it was possibly owned by a Catholic who came to France and used the name “Neville” as an alias and then found its way to a monastery of Jesuit monks.
Any wealthy person could have easily bought such a book, and while some argue that it shows who was interested in Shakespeare’s writings, it must be noted that there were many Protestants who bought his works, as well. Therefore, even if the book were owned by a Catholic, it only shows definitively that Shakespeare had an appeal to a very wide audience.
Here is an article that makes the opposite case, courtesy of The New York Times.
I’m interested to hear your opinion, whether you are influenced by this article or not, so I’m going to put out a little poll: