Shakespeare's Sisters

Shakespeare's Sisters is a free ten-week seminar celebrating five centuries of poetry by women. It is offered to selected students in grades 10–12, and meets on Wednesdays from 4–6pm from January through March. 

Participants in this seminar will read and discuss selected poems by British and American women poets from the mid-sixteenth century to the present—and, for comparison, some poems written about women by men. Students will also learn to write poetry of their own (no prior experience in writing poetry is necessary).

All students in grades 10–12 in the DC metropolitan area are eligible for the program. Students with an interest in creative writing or gender studies are particularly encouraged to apply. This program is offered free of charge.

The Folger Shakespeare Library prioritizes diversity; students should be genuinely interested in working with people from a wide variety of educational and cultural backgrounds in an atmosphere of mutual respect. There is no cost for the program, and all books and materials are provided free of charge. Participants will also be invited to a variety of poetry readings at the Folger Shakespeare Library during the seminar.

Teri Cross Davis, poetry and lectures coordinator at the Folger Shakespeare Library and Kim Roberts, poet and editor of Beltway Poetry Quarterly, lead the seminar.

Applications are now available for the 2017/18 seminar! To apply, please download this PDF iconstudent application and this PDF iconTeacher Recommendation form and submit to the address below by December 1, 2017. For a flyer with details and dates, please see PDF iconShakespeare's Sisters 2018. For any questions, please contact Teri Cross Davis at (202) 675-0374 or

Shakespeare’s Sisters Seminar
Poetry & Lectures Program
Folger Shakespeare Library 
201 East Capitol St, SE,
Washington, DC 20003

2018 Schedule

January 10
Poetry About Women: The Male Tradition in the Renaissance with Petrarch, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare & John Donne
January 17
Early Women Writers of the Renaissance: Queen Elizabeth, Isabella Whitney & Aemilia Lanier 
January 24
Women Writers of the 16th and 17th Century: Lady Mary Wroth, Katherine Philips & Mary Sidney Herbert 
January 31
A Royal Treat: Rare Books & Manuscripts from the Folger Shakespeare Library's Vault  
February 7
Pioneers in a New World: The 17th Century to Early 19th Century in America with Anne Bradstreet, Phyllis Wheatley & Frances E.W. Harper 
February 14
New Forms & New Ideas: The 19th Century in America & England with Emily Dickinson, Alice Dunbar-Nelson & Edna St. Vincent Millay 
February 21
Public & Private Bohemians: 20th Century in America with Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath & Adrienne Rich
February 28
Pioneers and Revolutionaries: Later 20th Century Voices with Gwendolyn Brooks, June Jordan & Lucille Clifton 
March 7
Contemporary Sisters Speak Out: Rita Dove, Sharon Olds & Linda Pastan
March 14
Student Publication, Poetry Reading & Party