Folger Shakespeare Library editions of Shakespeare's works

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This article is about the Folger Shakespeare Library editions of Shakespeare's works. For related articles, please see William Shakespeare's works (disambiguation).

Designed to make Shakespeare's plays and poems available to all readers, the Folger Shakespeare Library editions of Shakespeare's works provide accurate texts in modern spelling and punctuation, as well as scene-by-scene action summaries, full explanatory notes, many pictures clarifying Shakespeare's language, and notes recording all significant departures from the early printed versions. Each play or collection of poems is prefaced by a brief introduction, by a guide to reading Shakespeare's language, and by accounts of his life and theater.

Completely re-edited, these editions put readers in touch with current ways of thinking about Shakespeare. Each text is based directly on what the editors consider the best early printed version of a particular play, poem, or collection of poems, and each volume contains full explanatory notes on the page facing the text that they explain.

The illustrations of objects, clothing, and mythological figures are drawn from the Library's vast holdings of rare books. Each text is followed by an annotated list of further readings and by a "Modern Perspective" written by an expert on that particular work.

Published by Simon & Schuster's Washington Square Press, the Folger Shakespeare Library editions of Shakespeare's works are available for purchase in the Folger Shop and in bookstores nationwide. The editions are also available in print, as ebooks, as Folger Digital Texts, Folger Luminary Shakespeare Apps and as audio CDs from Simon & Schuster.

The editors

Dr. Barbara A. Mowat

Barbara A. Mowat is the Director of Research Emerita at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Consulting Editor of Shakespeare Quarterly, and Editor (with Paul Werstine) of the Folger Shakespeare Library editions of Shakespeare's works. Her major fields of research interest are Shakespeare’s dramatic romances, early modern printed dramatic texts, and Shakespeare’s reading practices. She holds an M.A. degree in English literature from the University of Virginia, a Ph.D. in English literature from Auburn University, and Doctorates of Humane Letters from Amherst College, St. Johns University, and Washington College. Before coming to the Folger, she was Hollifield Professor of English Literature at Auburn University and then Dean of the College at Washington College. She has served as President of the Shakespeare Association of America, President of the Southeast Renaissance Conference, Chair of the MLA Committee on the New Variorum Shakespeare, and a member of the Advisory Board of the International Shakespeare Conference (Stratford-upon-Avon).

Dr. Paul Werstine

Paul Werstine is Professor of English at King’s University College at the University of Western Ontario, a member of the Graduate Faculty at the University, Editor (with Barbara A. Mowat) of the Folger Shakespeare Library editions of Shakespeare's works, and General Editor (with Richard Knowles of the University of Wisconsin--Madision) of the New Variorum Shakespeare, published by the Modern Language Association, for which he is preparing the volume on Romeo and Juliet. He has written extensively about the transmission of early modern English dramatic texts in manuscript and into print, and about the history of editing Shakespeare, including Early Modern Playhouse Manuscripts and the Editing of Shakespeare (Cambridge, 2012). Dr. Werstine holds an M.A. degree in English literature from the University of Western Ontario and a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of South Carolina.

List of ISBNs for Folger editions

Cataloging

First published starting in 1992, the series has been issued as both a mass market paperback and a trade paperback, and many volumes have been reissued with updated notes and/or introductions. To find Folger Library editions in Hamnet, search under Series/Uniform Title Browse for "New Folger Library Shakespeare."

All copies of new Folger editions go first to the Acquisitions Office to be accessioned. We typically acquire one copy of each volume for the Reading Room, one copy for the open stacks, one copy for the Folger Archives, and occasionally one copy for the Reserve Collection. Each copy is accessioned under a distinct number:

  • 234254 - Reading Room - Copy 1
  • 234420 - Open stacks - Copy 2
  • 234255 - Archives - Copy 3
  • 234256 - Reserve - Copy 4


Send copies 1 and 2 to the Cataloging Office after they are accessioned. Send copy 3 to the Curator of Manuscripts to be added to the Folger Archives. Send any copy 4 items to the Reserve Shelf.

Cataloging

  • New Folger Library Shakespeare editions are cataloged like other modern books.
  • Transcribe or supply an edition statement to each record, e.g.:
250 [Mass market paperback ed.] / [Trade paperback ed.]
  • Call numbers were determined based on the Classification and Shelflisting Manual's guidance on multipart volumes (section G 140, Dates): a date is added to the call number based on the date of publication of the first/earliest part. In the case of New Folger Library Shakespeare editions, this date may not always appear in the volume, and will often be different from the imprint and copyright dates that are present in the volume. In case of any uncertainty, refer to the guide to distinguishing between editions below.

Distinguishing between editions

Mass market paperback, 1992

  • 18 cm
  • Editors' names on title page
  • Introduction by Werner Gundersheimer
  • Imprint: New York : Washington Square Press : Published by Pocket Books
  • PR2753.M6 1992
  • 1 copy in Reading Room; 1 copy in modern stacks

Mass market paperback, 2003

  • 18 cm
  • Editors' names on title page
  • Introduction by Werner Gundersheimer
  • Imprint: New York ; London ; Toronto ; Sydney : Washington Square Press
  • PR2753.M6 2003
  • 1 copy in Reading Room; 1 copy in modern stacks

Tall trade paperback, 2004

  • 22 cm
  • Editors' names on title page
  • Introduction by Werner Gundersheimer
  • Imprint: New York : Washington Square Press
  • PR2753.M6 2004
  • 1 copy in Reading Room; 1 copy in modern stacks

Tall trade paperback, 2010

  • 22 cm
  • Editors' names on title page
  • "Updated edition" on cover and title page
  • Introduction by Michael Witmore
  • Imprint: New York; London; Toronto; Sydney : Simon & Schuster Paperbacks
  • PR2753.M6 2010
  • 1 copy in Reading Room; 1 copy in modern stacks

Mass market hardcover, 1993

  • 20 cm
  • Imprint: Washington, D.C. : Privately printed for The Folger Shakespeare Library
  • PR2753.M6 1993
  • 1 copy in modern stacks

Trade hardcover, 2002

  • 23 cm
  • Imprint: New York : Washington Square Press
  • PR2753.M6 2002 (was PR2753.M6 1992b)
  • 1 copy in modern stacks.

Trade paperback, 1999 (discontinued)

  • 20 cm
  • New York : Washington Square Press : Published by Pocket Books
  • PR2753.M6 1999
  • Discontinued after only three volumes, and replaced by a taller (22cm) trade paperback edition. The three plays issued as part of this issue were re-issued as part of the replacement issue. All volumes of this issue were deaccessioned.