The H. H. 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. It also contains more than 2,000 microfilm dissertations on Shakespeare and English drama from the middle ages through the Restoration.
Horace Howard Furness, father (1833-1912) and son (1865-1930), founded and edited the Variorum Shakespeare. Their library was donated to the University of Pennsylvania in 1932 and has been continually enlarged since that date.
Materials purchased through this fund include:
- Shakespeare's The tragedie of Macbeth : printed from the folio of 1623.
- Parker's ephemeris for the year of our Lord 1715, or, The heliocentrick and geocentrick motions and aspects of the planets, exactly computed to the meridian of the city of London : with a short explanation of the feasts and fasts, according to the institu
- Bibliotheca histrionica : a catalogue of the theatrical and miscellaneous library of Mr. John Field, in which are contained several interesting specimens of the early drama ...
- [Playbill for Shakespeare's Twelfth night, to be performed at the Princess's Theatre on 13 February 1851 : to be followed by a performance of the pantomime Alonzo the brave and the fair Imogine, and by other plays on subsequent dates.]
- Tour in quest of genealogy : through several parts of Wales, Somersetshire, and Wiltshire, in a series of letters to a friend in Dublin : interspersed with a description of Stourhead and Stonehenge : together with various anecdotes, and curious fragments
- Works of William Shakespeare
- Summarie of our Englysh chronicles
- Tragedy of Thierry, King of France, and his brother Theodoret : as it was diuerse times acted at the Blacke-Friers by the Kings Maiesties seruants.
- Valentin Kraër account, 1784
- Ravvleigh his ghost, or, A feigned apparition of Syr VValter Rawleigh, to a friend of his, for the translating into English, the booke of Leonard Lessius (that most learned man) : entituled, De prouidentia muminis, & animi immortalitate : written against atheists, and polititians of these dayes
- See additional titles purchased through this fund