SOU's Hannon Library and the legacy of Tony and Betty Shively

Past to present: The Hannon Library’s Shively legacy

T.S. Eliot famously penned that “the very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future,” beckoning toward the treasured Hannon Library at SOU. Located in the heart of campus, the Hannon Library is a remarkable place of knowledge. More than just a quiet space to study, the Hannon Library serves as a vital resource for students and the wider community. Its extensive collections, both physical and digital, empower learners to navigate the ever-expanding world of information. The Hannon Library bridges the gap between past and present with its historical archives, ensuring that students and community members alike have the tools they need for research and academics.

One such member of the Hannon Library community was Thornton T. Shively – known by most as Tony – who left his mark on SOU in more ways than one. Not only was he a resident of Ashland, but he also actively participated in the community’s renowned cultural scene. He graced the stage of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) between 1948 and 1952. His love for literature extended beyond performance, as he transitioned to working at Southern Oregon College (now SOU) as a librarian from 1959 to 1962. Shively even explored the world of authorship under the pen name “Thorne Lee,” with his book “Summer Shock” drawing inspiration from a local Ashland production of “King Lear.”

The Shively family established the Thornton T. Shively Memorial Fund at Hannon Library in 1980, after Tony’s death. The fund was created to acquire important editions of William Shakespeare’s works and the works of Shakespeare’s contemporaries for the Hannon Library’s Margery Bailey Renaissance Collection.

Tony and Betty were close friends with Dr. Margery Bailey, who particularly admired Tony’s reading of Shakespeare. Tony was cast as the Earl of Kent in the OSF’s 1951 production of “King Lear.” Family lore has it that Dr. Bailey believed Tony should have instead been chosen for the lead role of King Lear. Tony’s wife, Betty, also worked at the library and volunteered actively with the OSF’s Tudor Guild and costume shop.

The Shively Memorial Fund has significantly enriched the Hannon Library’s collection of Shakespeare and early dramatic works. The very first item acquired with the fund was a landmark piece: the fourth folio edition of Shakespeare’s collected works, published in 1685 and presented by Susan Elizabeth Shively, also known as Betty, in 1981. This acquisition was followed by others of equal importance, including the Beaumont and Fletcher second folio of 53 plays (1679), the William Pickering edition of Shakespeare’s plays (1825), and the Nonesuch edition of Shakespeare’s plays (1936).

The fourth folio includes 36 plays found in the earlier folios, plus another seven plays thought at that time to have been written by Shakespeare. The Shively copy is bound in 19th century calf by Bayntum of Bath. The folio can be viewed by appointment in the archives at SOU’s Hannon Library. In fact, as SOU’s Theatre Department is bringing Shakespeare’s “Pericles” to life on-stage this spring, a curious theatre arts student cast in the production came to the archives to examine a copy of the fourth folio. To their surprise, they discovered a single word variation between the historical text and the script used in the current production. This encounter exemplifies the enduring value of the SOU archives. Even today, these resources serve as a vital resource for scholarly exploration, enriching the understanding and appreciation of theatrical works such as “Pericles.”

Betty passed away in 1984, and the name of the fund was changed to the Thornton T. and Susan Elizabeth Shively Memorial Fund.

“It pleases me to know this resource is available to scholars, educators and interested visitors,” says Susan Zare, Tony and Betty Shively’s daughter. “I recall reading in a library newsletter about an actor from the festival who used the folio for research. This cross-fertilization between SOU and OSF, and the value this collection brings to the university and the local community, feels truly rewarding.”

Zare and her sister, Sally Legakis, continue to support the Hannon Library as a cornerstone of SOU and the Rogue Valley community’s cultural heritage. It houses irreplaceable archives and collections that not only tell the stories of the past but also inspire creativity and scholarship for future generations.

Story by Melissa Matthewson, SOU Director of Development Communications