folger shakespeare library
research centre in Washington, D.C., for the study of William Shakespeare, his contemporaries, Elizabethan society and culture, and 15th- through 18th-century British drama, literature, and history. The library, with approximately 280,000 books and manuscripts, possesses an unrivaled collection of Shakespeare's work-79 copies of the First Folio (1623), 118 copies of the later folios, and about 7,000 other Shakespeare editions-and constitutes the second largest collection of English books printed prior to 1641. It also possesses world-famous collections of 18th- and 19th-century book illustrations and theatrical materials (such as theatre playbills, theatre programs, promptbooks, and costumes); 16th- and 17th-century French political pamphlets; tracts by various Reformation leaders, including Martin Luther; and materials associated with Desiderius Erasmus and John Dryden. The library also contains musical instruments, costumes, and films
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