Annotated bibliography of African-American Shakespeareana

This article enumerates selected primary sources relating to African-American Shakespeareana in the holdings of the Folger Shakespeare Library.

19th Century

  • Aldridge, Ira Frederick, d. 1867
Playbill dated 1833, plus 2 small engraved portraits and an article in German, mounted together
Folger Call Number: Art File A365.5 No.5
Ira Aldridge’s first appearance at Covent Garden in the role of Othello
  • Ira Aldridge, transcriber.
Manuscript of lines from Act III, sc. iii of 'Othello' in the hand of Ira Aldridge. Dated May 10, 1853.
Folger Call Number: Y.d.250

20th Century

  • Browne, Maurice, 1881-1955. and Van Volkenburg, Ellen.
The tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice, as produced at the Savoy Theatre, London, on Monday, May 19 1930.
With Paul Robeson as Othello, Maurice Browne as Iago, and Peggy Ashcroft as Desdemona.
Folger Call Number: Prompt Oth. Fo. 2
Contains many groundplans and 7 photographs of the sets. Stage settings by James Pryde. Includes at the end: Property plot (5 leaves); and Costume plot (14 leaves). Costumes by George Sheringham.
  • Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967, correspondent.
Typed letter to Dan Burley, signed. Dated 26 November, 1940. Hollywood, CA.
Folger Call Number: Y.c.1745
In this letter, Langston Hughes reports from Hollywood that “your swell jive 'Hamlet' was well received and very well liked by the committee” but they would probably prefer” the bedroom scene from 'Othello' done the same way.” Burley was noted pianist and journalist, the editor of many African-American publications including New York Age, Ebony and Jet.
  • Robert Edmond Jones, artist. 1943.
Costume design for Paul Robeson as 'Othello'.
Folger Call Number: Art Box J79 No. 1
Ink and gouache with fabric swatches.

21st Century

  • Keith Hamilton Cobb, playwright.
Prompt script for American Moor, performed in Washington, DC at the Anacostia Playhouse. 2015.
Folger Call Number: Sh. Misc. 269-340
This theatrical representation of the Black Shakespearean experience highlights the Folger's care for and involvement with both local and African-American communities.