Teaching Shakespeare!

A Folger Education Blog

Free, Searchable, Downloadable Shakespeare for All!

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Will you join us in providing every student and teacher with free access to meticulously edited texts of Shakespeare’s works? Keep reading.

Two blocks from the gleaming US Capitol and across the street from the Library of Congress sits the Folger Shakespeare Library. (Yes, in Washington, DC. Come explore!)

Just beneath its visitor entrance, exhibition spaces, theatre, and garden sits the world’s largest Shakespeare collection. The Folger vault houses about 160,000 printed books, 60,000 manuscripts, 90,000 works of art, hundreds of thousands of playbills and other pieces of performance history, and more Shakespeare First Folios than anywhere else.

What’s the most exciting piece (and perhaps most poorly kept secret) of this collection? The red-velvet-bound Bishops’ Bible of Queen Elizabeth I? Definitely maybe. The only known copy of the first edition of Titus Andronicus? Could very well be. Paul Robeson’s promptbook from a 1930 production of Othello? A serious contender.

Or maybe it’s the Folger Digital Texts, which give all of Shakespeare’s plays and poems to everyone, in meticulous editions, for free. That’s right: the Folger Editions, the most popular Shakespeare texts used in high school classrooms, are highly accurate and accessible—and now they’re online for you and your students to read, search, cut, copy and paste, download, study, speak, explore, and enjoy. Choose HTML, Word DOC, PDF, XML, or TXT.

  • Are you teaching a set of focal scenes and looking for authoritative editions with line numbers? Choose your play here, download away, and cut your scenes.
  • Do you want your students to do the close-reading activity of cutting a scene in half? Let’s pretend it’s Twelfth Night 1.2. They can do this right on their digital devices or on printed copies of the scenes.
  • Are you thinking about teaching a play but don’t currently have a hard copy of it? Let’s pretend it’s Macbeth. Read the whole thing here.
  • Do you want your students to trace the evolution of a word over the course of a play? Have them click on the play and then enter their word in the “Search” bar. Try “bird” in Romeo and Juliet just for fun.

Join with us in giving Shakespeare to EVERYONE, and let us know how you and your students are using the Folger Digital Texts in class.

Tweet us @FolgerED!

2 Comments


  • When I taught “Julius Caesar” for several years until a few years ago, there were many lessons available. These lessons went act by act, scene by scene. They were most beneficial to my students, who ended up really enjoying and appreciating the play. Are these available somewhere on the site? Can they be purchased? There were approximately 20-30 different lessons, if not more.

    • Emily,

      Glad we could connect over email and phone to talk through your Caesar plans. The Folger is wild about working with you and your students.

      – Corinne


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