Illustrating Shakespeare’s Plays (Pt. 1)

By:  Sydney Vollmer, ARB Intern

Illustration from A Midsummer Night's DreamArthur Rackham was born to a legal clerk and the daughter of a draper on September 19, 1867 in Lambeth, London. And very nearly seventy-two years later, his life ceased on September 6, 1939 in Stilegate.  Cancer is what took him, but certainly not before he had lived a full life.

Before he became an illustrator, Rackham began employment as a clerk in 1885 at the age of eighteen, following in his father’s footsteps.  Ultimately, though, this brought him no joy so he took night classes at the Lambeth School of Art. By 1884, his art, a satirical political drawing, was published in Scraps magazine and by 1892, he resigned from the life of a clerk to become a full-time illustrator with the Pall Mall Budget, later continuing his career in two other publications, the Westminster Budget and the Westminster Gazette. Continue reading Illustrating Shakespeare’s Plays (Pt. 1)

Wherefore ART Thou, Romeo?

By:  Sydney Vollmer, ARB Intern

Because he’s so given to romantic portraiture, and so is Juliet. Below, I have hand-selected fifteen images from six different editions of Romeo and Juliet. One of the great things about this collection is how many illustrated renditions there are of each play. For this blog, I chose to feature Romeo and Juliet because it’s a story with which everyone is familiar and there are a few different artistic styles captured within the works. I hope you enjoy as you peruse some images from our collection, and if there is another Shakespearian work from which you would like to see illustrations, please make an appointment to visit our library, or let me know by sending us a message on Facebook at, calling 513.556.1959, visiting our website at or emailing us at Continue reading Wherefore ART Thou, Romeo?

O’Hamlet: What Your Teacher Didn’t Tell You

By:   Sydney Vollmer, ARB Intern

Hamlet AnimationSure, and you’ve wondered about your heritage? Where did you come from? Where did it all start? And surely, you’ve wondered these same questions about the books you read?

Much of Cincinnati has Irish heritage, and you probably know that. But did you know that the story of Hamlet also has Irish roots? It’s true.  It has often been said that Shakespeare probably stole the idea for his play from the works of the Scandinavian poet, Snow Bear. However, Dr. Lisa Collinson of the University of Aberdeen has researched the origin of the Dane’s story for years and reaches the conclusion that Hamlet’s roots go back even further than Snow Bear. Continue reading O’Hamlet: What Your Teacher Didn’t Tell You

Check Out the Latest Issue of Source

sourceRead Source, the online newsletter, to learn more about the news, events, people and happenings in UC Libraries.

This latest issue of Source includes an An Update from Dean and University Librarian Xuemao Wang on the Implementation of our Strategic Plan, a Celebration of William Shakespeare and an interview with Lori Harris, NLM Associate Fellow. There are articles about two exciting spaces in the Health Sciences Library – the new Informatics Lab and the newly named Dr. Stanley B. Troup Learning Space, as well as a list of fall events in UC Libraries. Read these articles and more.

Source is available on the web at and via e-mail. To receive Source via e-mail, contact to be added to the mailing list.

You’re Probably More Like a Groundling Than You Think

By:  Sydney Vollmer, ARB Intern

Globe TheatreI’m pretty sure that during a quiz my freshman year of high school I couldn’t remember the term for the people who stood in the pit of the Globe Theatre to save my life. I sat in my honors English course feeling very stupid, and eventually turning in my quiz knowing I had failed to comprehend even the simplest term surrounding Shakespeare.

Now I’m aware, as I’m sure you are as well, that those smelly folks who couldn’t afford more than a penny to see a show were called groundlings. A penny may seem like nothing to us now, but back then it was the equivalent to 10% of one day’s wage (Globe Theatre Groundlings, n.d.). The majority of groundlings were London apprentices who were shirking their trades to see a show. This led to disgruntled employers as well as some rowdy activity in the crowds, due to the age of most groundlings. The players were not entirely happy either. As Shakespeare’s Hamlet speaks of the groundlings in Act 3, Scene 2:

“O, it offends me to the soul to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings, who for the most part are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb shows and noise.”

Continue reading You’re Probably More Like a Groundling Than You Think

More Shakespeare! 11 Recipes Sure to Surprise Your Friends

By: Sydney Vollmer, ARB Intern

Are you a college student looking for something to serve at your party this weekend? Are you a young professional looking to impress? Are you married and have no idea what to make for that couple you hate but you’re obligated to invite to your house every now and then? Keep reading.

For you, and only you, I have found a book of Shakespearean recipes in our collection of ephemera from UC’s 1916 celebration. I’m almost positive none of your guests have ever tried any of these before!

A few parting words:

  • Always try recipes once before making for others
  • Feel free to let the people at ARB be the guinea pigs you make sample your first attempts!

Good luck! Make sure to take pictures of your creations and share your experience with us on Facebook.

Recipe Book Cover Continue reading More Shakespeare! 11 Recipes Sure to Surprise Your Friends

Memories of Shakespeare and the Lyric Theatre

By: Sydney Vollmer, ARB Intern

Ad for Shakespeare seriesLook what we found! CCM students of days gone by customarily made a scrapbook of their experiences while they were in school. The scrapbook of Cincinnati Conservatory of Music (one half of what has become UC’s College-Conservatory of Music) student Virginia Inez Day recently came into our hands just in time for us to start our Shakespeare celebration! For those of you who have been in the cheap seats, 2016 is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and we are commemorating it with a year of promoting our Shakespeare holdings in the Archives & Rare Books Library and documenting the history of Shakespeare productions in Cincinnati. Continue reading Memories of Shakespeare and the Lyric Theatre

William and Me

By: Sydney Vollmer, ARB student assistant

William Shakespeare

We all know who Shakespeare is. He lived in London, wrote some plays and poetry, died and became really famous.

In the ninth grade, my English teacher at Cincinnati’s Seton High School introduced my class to Shakespeare. We all knew who he was. He wrote plays and poetry sometime around 1600. Not really understanding anything about literature, plays, or poetry at the time, all I knew was that Shakespeare was brilliant and well respected, which meant that if I wanted to be smart and scholarly, I would like and respect him the way proper people do. Then I read Shakespeare. Continue reading William and Me

“In the Service of the Eye”: Georg Bartisch’s 16th Century Textbook On Ophthalmology

By:  Kevin Grace

bartisach reader-smallA new exhibit has been mounted in the 8th floor hallway of Blegen Library.  Reproduced from a volume in the Archives & Rare Book Library, this exhibit features fourteen woodcuts from a 16th century science book.   One of the seminal medical texts of the Renaissance, Georg Bartisch’s volume on the eye, Ophthalmodouleia Das ist Augendienst, was a remarkably detailed guide to surgical techniques on ocular diseases.  Published in 1583, this “service of the eye” would build the foundation for ophthalmology research for the next 300 years. Continue reading “In the Service of the Eye”: Georg Bartisch’s 16th Century Textbook On Ophthalmology