You know your Shakespeare, but who else was writing for the early modern stage? What did drama look like between 1576 to 1642? How long did plays take to reach print? What playing companies appeared on the title page? Who printed drama?
Last month, the Folger Institute launched A Digital Anthology of Early Modern English Drama, the Folger’s NEH-funded hub for early modern drama. This brand new, freely accessible resource allows you to explore plays written primarily by authors other than Shakespeare that were performed between 1576 and 1642, and which were printed by 1660. These plays span the period from the opening of the first purpose-built theater in London—creatively named “The Theatre”—to the closing of the theaters during the English Civil War.
The Digital Anthology is a collection of 403 plays by 78 authors, from the well known Ben Jonson and Christopher Marlowe to the more obscure Thomas Goffe, Lewis Machin, and Thomas Jordan, as well as that prolific playwright Anonymous.
Red hyperlinks connect you to resources outside the Digital Anthology like the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC), Database of Early English Playbooks (DEEP), or the Digital Renaissance Editions (DRE) versions of a play.
Folks who are more computationally inclined can access XML files for the plays, encoded transcriptions produced by the Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership (EEBO-TCP) and the Shakespeare His Contemporaries projects. You can download these files from each play page individually, or curate your own corpus through our Corpus Search function which allows you to download groups of XML files.
Reading versions for a selection of texts will be released this fall. Digital documentary editions are currently being prepared by the encoding team, Meaghan Brown, Mike Poston, and Elizabeth Williamson.
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Update: On April 23, 2017, The Los Angeles Times published an article about A Digital Anthology of Early Modern English Drama. The article is informative and useful. However, it does contain a small factual error. The resource was first released during July 2016.