“And there’s the humor of it!” Shakespeare and the Four Humors

“And there’s the humor of it!” Shakespeare and the Four Humors explores the language of four humors and their influence in Shakespeare’s plays. English poet and playwright William Shakespeare created characters that are among the richest and most humanly recognizable in all of literature. Yet Shakespeare understood human personality and health in the terms available to his age—that of the now-discarded theory of the four bodily humors—blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm. The exhibition features rare books from the collection of the NLM and the Folger Shakespeare Library.

NLM produced the traveling banner and online exhibitions alongside an onsite display, which was in the History of Medicine Division Reading Room January 30, 2012–August 17, 2012.

In 2022, the Exhibition Program has refreshed the original online exhibition from 2012 into a responsive website with related digital resources from the National Library of Medicine.

Exhibition Program

Patricia Tuohy

Head, Exhibition Program

Jiwon Kim

Educator, Exhibition Program

Julie Botnick

Exhibition Technical Information Specialist

Carrissa Lindmark

Traveling Exhibition Assistant

Erika Mills

Community Outreach Coordinator

Jane Markowitz

Traveling Exhibition Services Coordinator

Tannaz Motevalli

Exhibition Coordinator


Gail Kern Paster, PhD

Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC
Guest Curator

Theodore M. Brown, PhD

University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
Guest Curator

Education Contributors

Theodore M. Brown, PhD

University of Rochester, Rochester, NY

Janet Collier

Jewish Primary Day School of the Nation's Capital, Washington, DC

Sahar Siddiqui, MEd

Montgomery College, Rockville, MD

Web Design


Baltimore, MD

Special Acknowledgements

Folger Shakespeare Library (2012)

Erin C. Blake, PhD
Curator of Art and Special Collections

Steven K. Galbraith, PhD

Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Books (2008–2011)

Rebecca Oviedo

Photography and Digital Imaging

Jeffrey Reznick, PhD

Chief, History of Medicine Division

Kenneth Koyle

Deputy Chief

Elizabeth Mullen

Manager of Web development and Social Media

Laura Hartman

Sr. Cataloger, Rare Books & Early Manuscripts Section

Krista Straka

Cataloger, Rare Books & Early Manuscripts Section

Wei Ma

Chief, Applications Branch

Winston Churchill

Applications Branch

Joe Potvin

Applications Branch

Ying Sun

Applications Branch