Upcoming Events

The Book Club of California is offering in-person and online programs and activities. Hybrid events with in-person attendance and a streaming element are also held.

In-person programs without a virtual component may be recorded for online viewing on our YouTube Channel after the event.

Unless otherwise noted, all events are free and open to the public and take place at the Book Club of California located at 312 Sutter Street, Suite 500 in San Francisco.

Please refer to the description under each event.

Email programs@bccbooks.org for any questions, or call (415) 781-7532 ext. 2. Many of our staff will be working remotely so please contact them by email or phone. Staff contact information can be found on our website.

A Collection of Early English Books: Reading in the Age of Shakespeare

Monday, December 4, 2023, 6-7:15 PM (Pacific)
| In-Person and Virtual Presentation

5:30 PM Pacific – Reception
6:00 PM Pacific – Program

Paul Chrzanowski’s presentation explores “books that Shakespeare might have read.” He donated his collection of nearly 150 early English books to the UCLA William Andrews Clark Memorial Library. The earliest printed work is Cordyal of the four last and final things, a book printed in 1479 by William Caxton, England’s first printer. The donation includes early literary works by Geoffrey Chaucer, John Gower, John Lydgate, and William Langland; English translations of classical works; pre-Reformation Catholic treatises and English Bibles; English chronicles; Shakespeare source books; works by Shakespeare and his contemporaries; and a wide variety of books read by English men and women through the long 16 th century.

Through the period of interest—from Caxton to Shakespeare—England made the remarkable transition from a late medieval society and late-Middle English to a mercantile, sea-faring nation and the works of William Shakespeare. This transition is reflected in the books that were printed and read. Works of Catholic devotion change to the Bible in English and John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments. Chronicles remind readers of the 15 th -century War of Roses and extoll the glories of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. The modern novel begins to emerge through the works of George Gascoigne, William Painter’s translations of Italian novellas, and Robert Greene’s pastorals. English readers kept up with current events and learned new skills.

The collection includes copies of the second and fourth folio editions of Shakespeare’s collected plays (1632 and 1685); plays extracted from the first and third folios; Robert Allott’s England’s Parnassus (1600) with Shakespeare excerpts; and a quarto play, Parts 2 and 3 of Henry the Sixth (1619). The presentation is not focused on these works. Rather it introduces books on wide-ranging topics that illustrate readers’ interests at the time—highlighting from the collection books of importance, books of great rarity, books with special provenance, and oddities.

An in-person and virtual presentation by Paul Chrzanowski, book collector

* Co-presented and co-hosted by American Trust for the British Library and the Bibliographical Society of America

Click here to REGISTER to attend in-person at The Book Club of California

Click here to REGISTER for the Virtual Presentation on Zoom


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