Author(s): Heather Wolfe (Compiled by, Editor)
"The Pen's Excellencie" selects one hundred manuscript treasures from the roughly 55,000 manuscripts at the Folger Shakespeare Library. It provides a window onto a vast landscape of experience, seen over the past seven centuries.Perhaps the only common feature of these remarkable texts is that someone wrote them with his or her own hand. Since they are notable examples carefully culled from many thousands of manuscripts, the writers tend to be reasonably well known - John Donne, Edmund Spenser, James Boswell, George Eliot, and letters by Wordsworth, Coleridge, Verdi, Dickens, Twain, Whitman, and Buffalo Bill. Both manuscripts that are priceless in terms of literary or historic interest and those that are fascinating or beautiful to look at are represented. While there are a handful of colorful, attention-grabbing manuscripts, most are deceivingly humble at first glance, written in inscrutable hands in brown ink. The earliest item, a copy of twelve works by Aristotle, is from the early fourteenth century. The latest item, from 1928, is a short poem by A. A. Milne.