Harold Holzer on Abraham Lincoln and William Shakespeare
Mar 18, 2009
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Lincoln historian Harold Holzer discussed the 16th president’s interest in the writings of William Shakespeare and his penchant for quoting the playwright and attending his plays. President Lincoln carried a volume of .. Read More
Lincoln historian Harold Holzer discussed the 16th president’s interest in the writings of William Shakespeare and his penchant for quoting the playwright and attending his plays. President Lincoln carried a volume of Shakespeare’s plays with him around the White House, frequently reading aloud to family and staff, and purportedly outshining any professional of the day with his interpretation of Richard III’s opening soliloquy. Abraham Lincoln used the bard to win a court case, found solace in the speeches when his son Willie died, and analyzed and critiqued the plays. Harold Holzer provided the backstory to some of the president’s favorite selections, which were then read by actors.
Harold Holzer is the author of numerous books on the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln, including Lincoln at Cooper Union that was the recipient of the Lincoln Prize in 2005. Mr. Holzer is the co-chairman of the U.S. Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.
The program “O, My Offense Is Rank": Lincoln’s Favorite Shakespeare Speeches: Excerpts from Hamlet, Henry IV, Julius Caesar, King Lear, Othello, and Other Plays, held in the Bruno Walter Auditorium, was part of the series "Mystic Chords of Memory: Abraham Lincoln and the Performing Arts” presented by New York Public Library for the Performing Arts for the bicentennial of President Lincoln’s birth.