Lily McKee High School Fellows Program

The Lily McKee High School Fellowship is a rigorous September-to-May program in which students explore a range of approaches to Shakespeare and the humanities, with deep dives into two plays and the sonnets. Working with scholars, actors, directors, teachers, editors, conservators, curators, and digital humanists, McKee Fellows form a community of learners gathered around knowledge and materials found only at the Folger.


McKee Fellows
Tracy Russo
Photo Credit: 
Tracy Russo

This program is about big questions: What does Shakespeare tell us about being human? Can we really know the origin of a word? How can scholarship and performance interact? These questions take fellows through all kinds of deep, exciting learning: rare book talks, research in the Folger Reading Rooms, Folger Theatre matinees, student performances on our Elizabethan stage, conservation lab tours, and weekly seminars with world-class scholars.

This program consists of an intensive fall course and up to five additional spring sessions. In the fall, classes typically meet from 3:45 to 6:00 pm every Monday from September 11 to December 11, with occasional sessions on Wednesday afternoons and weekends. The fall course culminates in a showcase of student research and group scenes. In the spring, fellows play a role in special sessions linked to broader programming at the Folger.

Here’s what past McKee Fellows say about their experience:

  • This experience was life-changing.
  • I have always loved to learn, but the Folger allowed me to learn without limits or expectations. It inspired me week after week to continue to build connections and look for the different sides of a story. As I look ahead to college, a career, and my general future, I expect that I will not settle for anything less exciting than what the Folger exposed me to.
  • We became a family. I feel so lucky to have met people who I otherwise wouldn't have crossed paths with. I was also surprised by how much access we were given to the Folger, through the Reading Room of course, but also through our seminars, our tour, the rare books we saw, etc. I very much felt like a part of the family. We are a family.
  • I was surprised to find other people who were actually like me. It was a lot of fun to be able to spend so much time with people whose interests are so similar to mine.
  • I loved everything, but my absolute favorite part had to be the research project. It allowed me to see Shakespeare's work in an entirely new way and it allowed me to connect his plays to my life and the whole world. I'm so thankful that we had the opportunity to get reader's cards and research in the Reading Room. It was an experience I could only dream of having and I'm so glad that that dream came true!

How to apply

Are you interested in words and language? Does the idea of working in the world’s largest Shakespeare collection thrill you? Do you wonder why we still study Shakespeare? Do you want to learn more about his plays? Are you interested in a kind of learning that brings together all kinds of subjects—literature, art, performance, technology, history, rhetoric, philosophy, and more? Do you want to read, write, perform, discuss, and question with wildly inquisitive and interesting people?

Rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors from public, parochial, independent, and home schools in the Washington, DC area are eligible. Applicants should be intellectually curious and self-motivated. No previous knowledge of Shakespeare is required. All interested students are encouraged to apply.

Applications are now closed for the 2017-18 school year. Check back here in spring 2018 for more information about the 2018-19 program!


All McKee Fellows are awarded full scholarships. Additional funds may be available for students with after-school jobs or who have major transportation challenges. Books and tickets to plays are provided.

This program is supported by gifts in memory of High School Fellowship alumna Lily St. John McKee (1987-2015).

More information

Questions? Please contact Corinne Viglietta at

Make a donation to the Lily St. John McKee Memorial Fund in support of this program.



Photo Credit: 
Folger Shakespeare Library