The Folger’s printed books collection ranges from the mid-1400s—the birth of printing in the West—to the present day. The books cover literary, cultural, political, religious, and social history in Britain and Europe from the 15th though 18th centuries, with a strong emphasis on the 16th and 17th centuries.
The Shakespeare Collection
Including 168 early modern quarto editions of the plays and poems, 82 copies of the 1623 First Folio, 58 copies of the Second Folio (1632), 23 copies of the Third Folio (1663–64), and 39 copies of the Fourth Folio (1685). It also contains other editions spanning the 18th century through today, including modern fine press editions and translations into nearly 100 languages.
Books on subjects ranging from religious disputes to military tactics to travel advice. Nearly 500 “incunables” (incunabula), books printed before 1501. Works related to the Reformation include volumes by Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, and other authors. The collection also has a wealth of Italian drama, travel books, classical authors, emblem books, science and technology, military history, and French and Dutch historical and political pamphlets. It includes significant collections of printed herbals and festival books.
Secondary sources in the Folger collection include journals, reference works, critical and historical books, and current editions of Shakespeare, including the Folger editions and the latest Oxford, Cambridge, and Arden editions. The Folger also provides access to a number of primary source subscription databases.
Learn more about some of the (many!) printed books in our collection.
Acquiring the Vincent First Folio: A Bibliophilic Drama in Two Parts (Part 2)
Part 2 of the thrilling story about how Henry Folger acquired the Vincent-Sibthrop copy of the First Folio.
Acquiring the Vincent First Folio: A Bibliophilic Drama in Two Parts (Part 1)
Did you ever wonder how Henry Folger acquired the copy of the First Folio that he considered “the most precious book in the world”? Wonder no more. Join Folger Archivist Sara Schliep on a two-part saga spanning over a decade and an ocean, both literal and figurative. Here is part 1 of the tale.
Venice paper, bacon, and quiet luxury
Why is there a picture of cooking bacon on this blog? Read on to find out what Heather Wolfe learned about Venice paper, early modern experimentation, and bacon.
Experiences of Captivity in the Books of John Smith
Folger Fellow Adrian Finucane explores issues of captivity in John Smith’s writing.
"What’s in a name?" That which we call [primitive] by any other word...
Artist Eva Rocha’s multimedia work investigates processes of dehumanization and in this post she looks at early colonial depictions of “Original Peoples”.