Saving Cape Fear
Bald Head Island, North Carolina
I was out walking on a brilliant, sunny day. I looked around. I said to myself that it's a mortal sin not to try and do something. Everyone said it was impossible, but I don't believe in impossible until you tried and failed.
A Texas oil man was about to develop Cape Fear, located on a barrier island off the coast of North Carolina. Everyone told me it was impossible to save the only North American cape in private hands, but the impossible always attracts me. The project introduced me to a new sort of work and a new assortment, and assessment, of people. I learned that an individual can make a difference, there was a cultural change.
I took a sabbatical from scholarship in 1994 and went totally off the academic rails. I became an environmentalist, using all my time and energy to save Cape Fear from development. I believed that humans needed the solitude of that cape.
I founded a land trust, managed it for four years, raised $3.5 million to buy it, and then donated Cape Fear to the state of North Carolina as a dedicated nature preserve, the same classification as Yellowstone Park. I did this by talking and writing.
Universidad Ruiz de Montoya, Lima Peru
All students have aspirations -- whether here in the States, Peru, or points in between -- and I am happy to do everything I can to make education in the Humanities more accessible and possible.
The Jesuit University that I attended had a great liberal arts tradition, but by 2020, it had become a technological university.
I wanted to support liberal arts education. A friend encouraged me to call the Jesuit responsible for all Jesuit higher education. I did. The Jesuit returned my call, from Peru, out of his mind with excitement. After listening to him talk to the Peruvian students, and to me, I examined the syllabus of the University of Lima. I quickly agreed to subsidize a liberal arts education for ten high school students, each year, from the outskirts of Lima.
If all goes well, Peruvian students with liberal arts degrees will keep multiplying, returning to their villages as leaders. Exchanging letters with The Maguire Scholars and zooming with them has been a joy.
Folger Shakespeare Library
The Folger Shakespeare Library’s very existence dazzles me. I came as a dissertation student and never left. I walk through its doors and feel I’m coming home.
My Life at the Folger
An excerpt from the Folger digital newsletter:
A Lifelong Relationship
“The Collections staff (current and former) is like family to me.” With Maguire’s support, her family and countless others will benefit from the Folger’s leadership in championing the Humanities for both scholarly and public engagement.
“I grew up at the Folger,” Maguire says of her nearly five decades of research in Renaissance and Restoration theater, which has included publication of two books, multiple articles, presentation of 20 papers, and participating in dozens of conferences – much of which came to be from a seat in the Folger’s inspired reading rooms.
Nancy is not new to caring for treasures. In the mid-1990s, she founded and managed a land trust dedicated to saving North Carolina’s Cape Fear from development. Through her efforts, the cape is a dedicated nature preserve. In 2017, she sponsored the Folger Theatre production of Davenant’s Macbeth and was a founding donor to the Elizabeth Walsh Acquisitions Fund in memory of the beloved head of Reader Services.
Since the 2006 publication of her book An Infinity of Little Hours: Five Young Men and Their Trial of Faith in the Western World’s Most Austere Monastic Order, Maguire’s work has been focused on the spirituality of death, dying, and mourning. Drawing from the 26-month experience she shared with her late husband, David, she continued to draw inspiration in the Folger Reading Room for her book on the topic currently in development. She is eager to return to the hallowed walls of the Folger. Her generosity will make that possible.