"Our Tools of Learning" : George Arthur Plimpton's Gifts to Columbia University

Early Modern & Modern Period > Page 1


The Education of Shakespeare, Illustrated from the Schoolbooks in Use in his Time

London & New York: Oxford University Press, 1933

This was the first of George Arthur Plimpton’s books. He wrote in his Preface: “It has been my privilege to get together the manuscripts and books which are more or less responsible for our present civilization, because they are the books from which the youth of many centuries have received their education. From this collection I have picked out the textbooks in use at the time that Shakespeare was in school. All the books from which I quote are on my own shelves. There are others, but I have confined this study to my own collection. I do not pretend to have made any study of the various controversies about Shakespeare, I do not profess to be a Shakespearean scholar; but I happen to own some books which are of interest to scholars, and I feel competent to give a simple and informal description of them.” In his acknowledgements, he includes George Lyman Kittredge, David Eugene Smith, and most especially his wife, Fanny Hastings Plimpton “for her constant help.”

Shakespeare bust

Wood, England, 18th century

Plimpton Collection

The remains of a label on this bust of Shakespeare suggests that it came from a London tavern on Drury Lane, possibly the Cock and Magpie, also known as the Cock and Pie, or Cock and Pye. The building was still standing in 1840 in lower Drury Lane, just down the hill from the Drury Lane Theatre of David Garrick and Richard Brinsley Sheridan fame.

Gift of George Arthur Plimpton


English Language exhibition

[New York: Grolier Club, 1930]

Plimpton Family Papers

This is an invitation to the exhibit opening and talk by Plimpton held on March 20th, 1930, for his exhibition of “books and manuscripts illustrating the formation of the English language.” It was designed by W. A. Dwiggins.

Gift of George Arthur Plimpton


Rare Book & Manuscript Library / Butler Library, 6th Fl. East / 535 West 114th St. / New York, NY 10027 / (212) 854-5153 / rbml@libraries.cul.columia.edu