Monday, April 23, 2012

An Alphabet of History

First spotted on Reddit, this 1905 Alphabet of History has more than just the page on "Shakspeare" that the original commenter spotted.

First of all, you have to love a children's ABC book that uses a Shakespearean villain as one of the letters. Does that mean that kids would have read Othello and known who this was?  The actual verse for Iago doesn't seem very good, but I like how it suggests that he doesn't get nearly the credit he deserves.

A page on Ben Jonson? Really?  No schoolchildren today would know Jonson or his works, certainly.  I wonder when he fell out of popular study?

And, of course, our star.  This verse has all kinds of great stuff going for it, starting with the spelling of his name. Was that the most common spelling 100 years ago?  There's part of the verse that deals with people bidding on his rare signatures, I wonder if we could pin the 1905 date to some special event in the history of the known signatures, that would have been a newsworthy item right around this time.

And then of course there's the Bacon reference, although I think the author put that in there entirely for the "ham" joke.  Mark Twain, noted Baconian, died in 1910.  And Helen Keller was get getting started.  So the Bacon theory seems to have been in full swing.

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