William H. Sherman

This page reflects a scholar's association with the Folger Institute.

Long-term fellowship

"Knowledge is Power: Renaissance Intelligence and Its Modern Legacies" (Mellon, 2011–2012)

This project offers a new account of intelligence in the English Renaissance, when the relationship between knowledge and power was closer and more complicated, perhaps, than at any time before or since. After all, it was Francis Bacon who coined the famous axiom, “Knowledge is power,” and his life and writings offer ample testimony to the connections between the difference spheres of intelligence—learning or wit on the one hand and espionage on the other. The first part will trace the connections between scholarship and spying in Renaissance texts, careers, and institutions, and the second will explore the surprising lives of modern scholars who combined intellectual expertise on Renaissance history and literature with work in the field of intelligence, including Conyers Read, William Friedman, and Rosalie Colie.

Scholarly Programs

Speaker, Shakespeare and the Problem of Biography (Conference, 2013–2014)

Participant, Transactions of the Book (Conference, 2001–2002)

Director, The Early Modern Book (Masters Seminar, 1997–1998)

Faculty, Habits of Reading in Early Modern England (NEH Institute, 1997-Summer)


Decoding the Renaissance, Exhibition at the Folger (November 11, 2014–March 1, 2015)


Editorial Board, Shakespeare Quarterly