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Horace Howard Furness Memorial Library

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The Horace Howard Furness Memorial Library focuses on Shakespeare’s works, their history and theatrical context, and the long tradition of Shakespearian criticism.

Collection strengths

The Furness Memorial Library is devoted to the study of Shakespeare and other Tudor and Stuart dramatists. It includes most writings in English--as well as writings in many other languages--about Shakespeare and virtually all English-language editions of his plays and poems, including the first four folios, some early quartos, and other editions up to the present time. Translations of Shakespeare into many world languages are a special focus of the collection. Promptbooks, biographies, photographs, letters, scrapbooks (with reviews and news reports about Shakespearean performances and performers), and playbills offer rich resources for early stage history. In addition, the Library gathers primary and secondary information about the history of the Renaissance, especially in England but also on the Continent, and Shakespeare's predecessors, contemporaries, and successors among English Renaissance literary writers, particularly dramatists.

Current scholarship in the Furness Collection is housed in the Furness Shakespeare Library, Van Pelt 628, where it may be accessed during the hours Van Pelt-Dietrich Library is open. These books are non-circulating. Older materials in the Furness Collection must be consulted in the Kislak Center Reading Room (Van Pelt 616).

Collection History

  • Photograph of Horace Howard Furness in the library of his summer home, Lindenshade
    Photograph of Horace Howard Furness in the library of his summer home, Lindenshade
  • A brief history of the Furness Collection at Penn
  • In 1931, as the gift of Horace Howard Furness, Jr. (1865-1930), and his wife, Louise Brooks Winsor Furness (1868-1929), the Library was placed under the stewardship of the University of Pennsylvania as a memorial to his father Horace Howard Furness, Sr. (1833-1912). With the gift came funds to build a space on campus to house the collection. Dedicated on April 23, 1932, and originally housed in the main library building, now the Anne & Jerome Fisher Fine Arts Library, the Memorial was moved to Van Pelt Library in 1962 and reconstructed in the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts in 2013.

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