Folger Shakespeare Library-2

Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC, 2015. Photo by Smash the Iron Cage. Licensed under Creative Commons, courtesy Wikipedia Comons.

Folger Shakespeare Library
Location: Washington, D.C.
Built: 1929-1932
Architect: Cret,Paul P.; Trowbridge,Alexander B.
Architectural style: Modern
Governing body: Private
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NRHP Reference#: 69000294 [1]
Added to NRHP: June 23, 1969
About Shakespeare

William Shakespeare
Shakespeare's life
Religion • Sexuality
Collaborations • Attribution
Reputation • Influence
World Bibliography
Folger Shakespeare Library
Books on Shakespeare


Shakespeare's Sonnets
Shakespearean sonnet
Petrach vs. Shakespeare
"A Lover's Complaint"
"Venus and Adonis"
"The Rape of Lucrece"
"The Phoenix and the Turtle"

Chronology • Early texts
First Folio • Second Folio
False Folio • Style

Rowe • Pope • Theobald
Johnson • Steevens • Malone

The Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Merry Wives of Windsor
Measure for Measure
The Comedy of Errors
Much Ado About Nothing
Love's Labour's Lost
A Midsummer Night's Dream
The Merchant of Venice
As You Like It
The Taming of the Shrew
All's Well That Ends Well
Twelfth Night


King John • Richard II
Henry IV, Part 1 • Part 2
Henry V • Henry VI, Part 1
Henry VI, Part 2 • Part 3
Richard III • Henry VIII


Troilus and Cressida
Coriolanus • Titus Andronicus
Romeo and Juliet''
Timon of Athens • Julius Caesar
Macbeth • Hamlet
King Lear • Othello
Anthony and Cleopatra


Pericles, Prince of Tyre
Cymbeline • The Winter's Tale
The Tempest
The Two Noble Kinsmen


Elizabeth I • James I
Beaumont and Fletcher
Geo. Chapman • Henry Chettle
Robert Davenport
Tho. Dekker • Michael Drayton
Thomas Heywood • John Ford
Ben Jonson • Thomas Kyd
John Lyly • Gervase Markham
Christopher Marlowe
John Marston • Tho. Middleton
Thomas Nashe • George Peele
Walter Raleigh • William Rowley
Cyril Tourneur • John Webster
Elizabethan miscellanies

In performance

Shakespeare's Globe
Royal Shakespeare Theatre
Stratford Shakespeare Festival
Theatre companies
Film and TV adaptations
BBC Television Shakespeare


Shakespeare Apocrypha
Authorship question • History
Jubilee • Bardolatry
Shakespeare's Birthplace
Shakespeare garden

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The Folger Shakespeare Library is an independent research library on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., in the United States.


The library was established by Henry Clay Folger in association with his wife, Emily Jordan Folger. It opened in 1932, 2 years after his death.

The library has the world's largest collection of the printed works of William Shakespeare, and is a primary repository for rare materials from the early modern period (1500-1750).

It offers advanced scholarly programs; national outreach to K-12 classroom teachers on Shakespeare education; and plays, music, poetry, exhibits, lectures, and family programs. It also has several publications and is a leader in methods of preserving rare materials.

The library is privately endowed and administered by the Trustees of Amherst College.


Henry Clay Folger, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Amherst College, became president and then chairman of the board of Standard Oil of New York. Folger was an avid collector of Shakespeareana. Toward the end of World War I, he and his wife Emily, Jordan Folger, began searching for a location for his Shakespeare library. They chose a location adjacent to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.. The land was then occupied by townhouses, and Folger spent several years buying the separate lots. The site was designated for expansion by the Library of Congress, but in 1928 Congress passed a resolution allowing its use for Folger's project.[2][3][4]

The cornerstone of the library was laid in 1930, but Folger died soon afterward. The bulk of Folger's fortune was left in trust, with Amherst College as administrator, for the library. Because of the stock market crash of 1929, Folger's estate was smaller than he had planned, although still substantial. Emily Folger, who had worked with her husband on his collection, supplied the funds to complete the project. The library opened on April 23, 1932 (believed to be Shakespeare's birthday). Emily Folger remained involved in its administration until shortly before her death in 1936.[5][6]


File:Folger Shakespeare Library DC.JPG
File:Folger Library Theater.jpg

The main Folger building was designed by architect Paul Philippe Cret. The white marble exterior includes 9 street-level bas-reliefs of scenes from Shakespeare's plays created by sculptor John Gregory, a statue of Puck by Brenda Putnam, plus many inscriptions personally selected by Henry Folger. The large Art Deco window and door grilles are aluminum.

Inside, the building is designed in a Tudor style with oak paneling and plaster ceilings. The 2 reading rooms (the 2nd added in the early 1980s) are reserved for use by scholars who have obtained advance permission. Public spaces include the large exhibition gallery, a gift shop, and the Elizabethan theatre.

A 2nd Folger building, the Haskell Center, opened in 2000 across the street from the original building. It houses the library's education and public programs staffs.

The Folger grounds include a Shakespeare garden: an Elizabethan-style garden of plants mentioned in Shakespeare's plays or that were commonly used in his day.


The Folger, with its large collection of Shakespeare-related material, is best-known for its 82 copies of the 1623 Shakespeare First Folio, as well as many earlier quartos of his individual plays. Not restricted to Shakespeare, the library holds the world's third largest collection of English books printed before 1641, as well as substantial holdings of continental and later English imprints.[7]

In all, the library collection includes more than 250,000 books, about 55,000 manuscripts (from Elizabeth I and John Donne to Mark Twain and Walt Whitman),[8] 250,000 playbills, and 50,000 works on paper (including prints and photographs).[9][10] It also holds many paintings and sculptures, most related to Shakespeare or his plays.


Folger Shakespeare Library's cultural and arts programs include theater, poetry, concerts, exhibitions, and lectures.

The Folger Theatre performs a 3-play season, featuring the works of Shakespeare as well as contemporary plays inspired by his works. Several productions have won a Helen Hayes Award.[11] The Folger Consort, the library's resident early music ensemble, also performs a regular concert program.

The annual PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction readings are held in the Folger's Elizabethan Theatre.

The O. B. Hardison, Jr. Poetry Prize is awarded by the library to a U.S. poet who has published a within the last 5 years, has made important contributions as a teacher, and is committed to furthering the understanding of poetry.

The Folger Institute organizes academic conferences, symposia, and seminars, as well as summer institutes. The Folger education department holds month-long summer institutes on teaching Shakespeare, as well as workshops around the country.

Folger publications include the Folger Library editions of Shakespeare's plays, the journal Shakespeare Quarterly, the teacher resource books Shakespeare Set Free, and exhibition catalogs.


The library building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.


  1. Template:NRISref
  2. Ziegler, Georgianna: "Duty and Enjoyment: The Folgers as Shakespeare Collectors in the Gilded Age", Shakespeare in American Life, Virginia and Alden Vaughan (eds.). Washington, D.C.: Folger Shakespeare Library, 2007, pages 108-109.
  3. Infinite Variety: Exploring the Folger Shakespeare Library, Esther Ferington (ed.). Washington, D.C.: Folger Shakespeare Library (distributed by University of Washington Press, Seattle), 2001, page 16.
  4. Also see "Founding the Library" on Folger website.
  5. Lynch, Kathleen, "Folger, Emily Jordan", American National Biography, Jon Garty and Mark Carnes (editors). New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, volume 8, pages 167-168.
  6. Infinite Variety, pages 16-17.
  7. Infinite Variety, page 95.
  8. Wolfe, Heather (ed. and compiler), "The Pen's Excellencie": Treasures from the Manuscript Collection of the Folger Shakespeare Library," Washington, D.C.: Folger Shakespeare Library (distributed by University of Washington Press, Seattle), 2002, page 10 for total number, pages 51, 151, 183, and 196 for Elizabeth I, Donne, Twain, and Whitman.
  9. "Folger Shakespeare Library", New Encyclopædia Britannica, Chicago: Micropædia, 15th edition, 2007, Volume 4.
  10. Infinite Variety, page 95; see also "The Collection" on the Folger site.
  11. "Helen Hayes Awards and Nominations" list on Folger site

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