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November 1921

The Adelaide Crapsey Lectures, presented by a group of alumnae in memory of Adelaide Crapsey ’01, consisted of seven lectures on Shakespeare by Florence Keys, formerly associate professor of English at Vassar.

A vibrant undergraduate, Crapsey developed tuberculosis shortly after graduating from Vassar. Although in steadily deteriorating health, she taught in the United States and abroad, retiring finally in 1913 from a position teaching poetics at Smith College and entering a sanatorium at Saranac Lake, NY. There, in her last year, she wrote many accomplished poems, several in verse forms of her own invention. A posthumous selection of her poetry appeared as Verses (1915).

Florence Keys joined the Vassar faculty in 1899 and resigned her position in 1914, largely to devote time to personal, literary and social welfare concerns. Her students commemorated her teaching in the 1914 Vassarion: “Few teachers anywhere combine as does Miss Keys, thorough, exact scholarship with profound poetic insight, and almost none maintains as she does a sense of the reality of social problems and of the relation scholarship bears to progress….”

Heather Murray, “Doubled Lives: Florence Valentine Keys, David Reid Keys, and the work of English Studies,” The University of Toronto Quarterly

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