Shakespeare’s 455th Birthday at the Folger (photos)

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Queen Elizabeth I, portrayed by Penelope Rahming, uses her sword to cut the birthday cake for William Shakespeare at the Folger Library. Photo by Jeff Malet.

In what has become an annual tradition at the Folger Shakespeare Library on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., fans of the Bard gathered on Sunday, April 14, to celebrate the 455th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth.

There were plenty of activities for young and old alike, including sword fighting demonstrations, music recitals, workshops and arts and crafts. It was also the one day of the year when the Folger reading rooms are open to all.

The independent library at 201 E Capitol St. SE has the world’s largest collection of the printed works of Shakespeare and is a primary repository for rare materials from the early modern period. It also hosts a wide variety of events from theater and musical performances to poetry readings.

The birthday celebration concluded with a grand appearance and cutting of the cake by Queen Elizabeth I herself, accompanied by her favorite, William Cecil, 1st Baron Burleigh, ably portrayed by Penelope Rahming and John Finedore, respectively.

View Jeff Malet’s photos from the 2019 celebration of Shakespeare’s Birthday at the Folger Shakespeare Library by clicking on the photo icons below.

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