The H. H. Furness Memorial Library is devoted to the study of Shakespeare and other Tudor and Stuart dramatists. It includes most writings in English--as well as writings in many other languages--about Shakespeare and virtually all English-language editions of his plays and poems, including the first four folios, some early quartos, and other editions up to the present time. Translations of Shakespeare into many world languages are a special focus of the collection. Promptbooks, biographies, photographs, letters, scrapbooks (with reviews and news reports about Shakespearean performances and performers), and playbills offer rich resources for early stage history. In addition, the Library gathers primary and secondary information about the history of the Renaissance, especially in England but also on the Continent, and Shakespeare's predecessors, contemporaries, and successors among English Renaissance literary writers, particularly dramatists. It also contains more than 2,000 microfilm dissertations on Shakespeare and English drama from the middle ages through the Restoration.
Horace Howard Furness, father (1833-1912) and son (1865-1930), founded and edited the Variorum Shakespeare. Their library was donated to the University of Pennsylvania in 1932 and has been continually enlarged since that date.