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Book Notes: Libraries Hold Events in Celebration of Shakespeare’s 454th Birthday

  • A portrait of William Shakespeare, presented by the Shakespeare Birthplace trust, is seen in central London, Monday March 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 4/20/2018 12:05:02 AM
Modified: 4/20/2018 12:05:14 AM

After decades of teaching English to preteens at schools in East Corinth and Haverhill, Mary Burnham still can’t help sharing her love of the subject in her new line of work — especially when it comes to the Bard.

On Monday night at Newbury, Vt.’s Tenney Memorial Library, the first-year librarian and her counterpart at Wells River’s Baldwin Memorial Central Library will kick off a running celebration of William Shakespeare’s 454th birthday. Activities over the coming weeks will range from recitations of the Bard’s work to informal workshops in Elizabethan-era insults, compliments, dance and fencing.

“I know that adults can be as nervous and put off by Shakespeare as teens are,” Burnham said on Wednesday. “I also have lots of tricks to break down the walls. ... I try to get folks to see him as a hard-working father and husband who writes plays to support his family.”

Monday’s celebration begins at 6:30 with a reading of the opening of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Burnham said that she and Baldwin Memorial librarian Peggy Hewes will take turns hosting Shakespeare celebrations on Monday nights.

“I am in awe of all we owe Shakespeare for our language — words, images and metaphors,” Burnham added. “English would be extremely dull if Will had never written.”

For more information about Monday’s Shakespeare gathering, and for updates about activities to come at both libraries, call 802-866-5366 or 802-757-2693.

B is for Biography

West Lebanon-based author and playwright Jack Beatty will talk about the art and science of revisiting the lives of the famous and accomplished, as headliner for the Norman Williams Public Library’s annual Ex Libris Gala on April 29 at the Woodstock Inn.

Beatty, a longtime magazine editor who has written a number of standard biographies, in recent years has turned to writing plays that explore the motives of historical figures. Shaker Bridge Theater in Enfield recently staged a reading of The Battle Not Begun, Beatty’s two-man drama about the pre-World-War-II meetings between Adolf Hitler and Neville Chamberlain. During his appearance at the gala, Beatty will talk about his next play, A Great Moment in Literary History: When Boswell Met Johnson, to illustrate the challenges that face biographers.

Admission to the gala, which starts at 5:30 p.m., is $125, which includes a cocktail reception and dinner. To reserve a seat or a table, visit or call 802-457-2295, ext. 126.

Northeast Kingdom author Reeve Lindbergh visits the Norwich Bookstore on Wednesday night at 7 to read from and discuss Two Lives, her new book about the mixed blessings of growing up as the daughter of aviator-authors Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, then evolving into the public face of the family after her parents’ deaths.

While admission to Reeve Lindbergh’s reading is free, the bookstore has limited seating and recommends making reservations by calling 802-649-1114 or emailing

David Corriveau can be reached at and at 603-727-3304.

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