Louis Booker Wright

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Louis Booker Wright (March 1, 1899 – December 26, 1984) was an American author, educator and librarian.

Wright was the director of the Folger Shakespeare Library, the author of numerous books about the American colonial period, and in 1928 he was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship.[1]

Wright resided in Greenwood County, South Carolina, his birthplace, until he attended Wofford College, where he enlisted in the Student Army Training Corps. He was subsequently stationed at Plattsburgh, New York, for six months during World War I. He did not return directly to Wofford after the war, but spent several months as an airmail pilot before resuming his studies. In 1920 he graduated from Wofford with a B.A. in chemistry.[2] In 1923, he became an English teaching assistant at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he wrote his Master's thesis in 1924. In 1926, he received his Ph.D from Chapel Hill and became an Assistant Professor of English there. During this period, he married Francis Black. Louis and Francis moved to London in 1928 upon his reception of a Guggenheim Fellowship.[3][4]

In 1931, joined the staff of the Huntington Library as an administrator and scholar. Much of his research at the Huntington was concerned with the English Renaissance and the colonial period of the United States. While at the Huntington, he also served as a visiting professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, the California Institute of Technology, and Pomona College.[5]

Before his appointment as director of the Folger Shakespeare Library in 1947, Wright was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters by Princeton University. He officially began working for the Folger in the summer of 1948. While director, Wright used administrative insight gained at the Huntington to initiate more modern and efficient practices at the Folger, adding reference works and improving lighting in the main research room. During his time as director, the Folger also adopted the Library of Congress' classification system.[6] With Virginia LaMar, the Folger's executive secretary, Wright edited an early series of Folger Shakespeare Library editions of Shakespeare's plays, drawing on Folio and Quarto editions of the plays and compiling notes to make the plays as accessible as possible to the casual reader. The editions were published in the late 1950s and early 1960s.[7]

Among the organizations Wright served after his retirement in 1968 were the National Geographic Society, the Modern Language Association, and the Harry S. Truman Institute for National and International Affairs. Wright died in 1984 of cardiovascular disease in Chevy Chase, Maryland.[8][9]


Wright, Louis B. The Cultural Life of the American Colonies, 1607-1763. London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1949.
Wright, Louis B. The Dream of Prosperity in Colonial America. New York: New York University Press, 1965. Wright, Louis B. "Life on the American Frontier." New York: Capricorn Books, 1971.


  1. "Louis Booker Wright" Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Retrieved 2015-7-11.
  2. Charles Frederick Hard, Louis B. Wright: A Bibliography and an Appreciation (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1968), pages 10-11.
  3. Hard 1968, pages 13-19.
  4. "Louis Booker Wright" Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Retrieved 2015-7-30.
  5. Hard 1968, pages 22-23.
  6. Stephen H. Grant, Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folger (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014), page 194.
  7. Louis B. Wright, Of Books and Men (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1976), pages 136-137.
  8. "Louis Booker Wright" Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Retrieved 2015-7-30.
  9. "Louis Wright, Scholar, Dies; Headed Shakespeare Library" New York Times. Retrieved 2015-7-30.