A Friday Photo Mystery

Last night, we announced that we will be presenting A Midsummer Night’s Dream from June 20 to June 23, 2013 for our Shakespeare on the Lawn at Salisbury House program. We made the announcement during a wonderful fundraising event in the Common Room presented by our creative partners, Repertory Theater of Iowa. When we have such events, we like to find rarely-seen items to share with our audience members as a testament to the breadth and depth of the collections here. Here’s something we showed our guests last night, that ties Salisbury House, the Weeks family, and William Shakespeare together in an amazing fashion. We present it to you in the same way that we discovered it!

High on an out-of-the-way shelf in the Salisbury House Library is a slender, unmarked book that has been rebound in plain, manilla-colored cardboard. What could it be?

High on an out-of-the-way shelf in the Salisbury House Library is a slender, unmarked book that has been rebound in plain, manilla-colored cardboard. What could it be?

Inside the front cover is an inscription: Carl Weeks gave this book to his youngest son, Lafe, on Christmas Day, 1939.

Inside the front cover is an inscription: Carl Weeks gave this book to his youngest son, Lafe, on Christmas Day, 1939. Lafe was about 20 at the time.

Tucked inside the front cover are four yellowed pieces of lined paper, pulled from a spiral notebook. They are filled with writing in what looks to be a young person's cursive, done in pencil.

Tucked inside the front cover are four yellowed pieces of lined paper, pulled from a spiral notebook. They are filled with writing in what looks to be a young person’s cursive, done in pencil. Do you recognize the quote?

Carl gave Lafe a 1703 edition of Shakespeare's "Hamlet," published in London. The page numbers in Carl's inscription match the locations of the four passages recorded in the handwritten pages. Did Carl find some of young Lafe's writing done after "90 minutes spent with Shakespeare," and surprise him with it in this gift, years later? We may never know . . . but it's a reminder that all of these objects have amazing human stories and meaning behind them!

Behind the notebook paper, we find what lies within: a 1703 edition of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” published in London. The page numbers in Carl’s inscription match the locations of the four passages recorded in the handwritten pages. Did Carl find some of young Lafe’s writing done after “90 minutes spent with Shakespeare,” and place it in this gift, years later? We may never know . . . but it’s a reminder that all of these objects have amazing human stories and meaning behind them!

About J. Eric Smith
Writer, Speaker, Trainer, Planner, Manager.

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