Shakespeare and the Berkeley Institute

3 books

I purchased these three copies of Shakespeare’s works at a local book sale several years back.  The cover of the series caught my eye: the detailed and outlined tree reminds me of a beautiful secluded English forest, in which you could spend hours watching the sunshine peak through the leaves, or listen to the birds fly above.


One day, I hope to score the whole series, but I’m too cheap at the moment to shell out the $15 each their going for online.  Perhaps, I’ll get lucky and I’ll find more of them in another book sale.

These three copies were published in 1916 by D.C. Heath & Co, a forerunner of Houghton-Mifflin.  Arden Shakespeare, named after Shakespeare’s mother as well as the forest in As You Like It, is a well known scholarly approach to Shakespeare, still used in high schools and universities today.  Published specifically for these groups, the Arden Shakespeare has gone through three series of publishing, the first starting in 1899, the second starting in 1946, and the third starting in the 1990s.

title page

The copy of Twelfth Night is probably my favorite, as it contains a unique sticker in the front cover:

berkeley sticker

The Berkeley Institute was an all girls private school established in 1886, after one individual took it upon himself to educate children in one of the upper class areas of Brooklyn.  This impromptu school outgrew the financial abilities of this teacher, and he asked a group of men if they would assume the financial end of the institution, creating the Berkeley Institute.

Named after Bishop George Berkeley, an Irish scholar and philosopher who immigrated to the American colonies in the 1720s, he was an early supporter of higher education in America.  He ended up not having the best of times in America, and returned to London in the 1730s, but that’s beside the point.

The school opened with 55 girls  in the upper class residential neighborhood of Park Slope.  It was conveniently located, as it was easily accessible by five street car lines.  By the early 1900s, the Institute had gained a prestigious reputation, with a large majority of its students receiving automatic entry to prominent women’s colleges like Vassar, Mount Holyoke, Smith, Wellesley, and Radcliffe.

In the 1970s, the school allowed boys to attend 7th and 8th grade.  In 1982, the school combined with a Montessori Carroll Street School, creating a preschool through 12th grade college prep institute named Berkeley Carroll, which is still running today.

Further Reading:

Arden Shakespeare. ‘A History of Arden.’ A & C Black Books. 4 November 2010. Film through Youtube. 6 September 2013

The Berkeley Carroll School. ‘Our History.’ Berkeley Carroll School. 2013. Web. 6 September 2013


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Filed under 1880s, 1910s, Books

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