Furness family papers
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
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Overview and metadata sections
Howard Furness (1833-1912) was born in Philadelphia and graduated from Harvard in 1854. He was admitted to the bar in 1859 but soon began to focus on studying and collecting Shakespearean texts. In 1871 he produced the first volume of the New Variorum Shakespeare, an edition of Romeo and Juliet. The series was designed to bring together all known information about the plays' textual variants, sources, and critical reception. Furness was a member of several scholarly societies, including the Shakespeare Society of Philadelphia, founded in 1851. He died in Wallingford, Pennsylvania in 1912. Furness's family shared his enthusiasm for Shakespeare. His wife, Helen Kate Furness, was responsible for compiling A Concordance to Shakespeare's Poems (1874), and his son Horace Howard Furness took up the project of editing subsequent Variorum editions after his father's death. Furness, Jr. graduated from Harvard in 1888, but before approaching the Variorum project, he studied music at the University of Pennsylvania and taught physics at Episcopal Academy from 1891 to 1901. Macbeth, the first revised edition in the Variorum series, was produced in 1903. He became a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania in 1929 and donated his family's collection of books, letters, and memorabilia to the University at his death.
The Furness family papers consists of family records, personal records, and materials related to the publication of the New Variorum editions. It represents the work of Furness and his son, as writers, editors and collectors, but it also includes personal materials related to their non-scholarly interests. The first series of the collection, the Family Records, relates to the private life of the Furness family; the second series--collected materials, theatrical and non-theatrical--represents the family members' interests as book and memorabilia collectors. The third series of the collection, the Variorum papers, consists of four sections: correspondence, manuscripts, Shakespeare editions, and notebooks. The correspondence deals primarily with the publication of the revised Variorum editions in the 1930s. Correspondents include Joseph Quincy Adams, Frederick William Ashley, Matthew Wilson Black, Tucker Brooke, Edward Cheyney, Edwin Conklin, Albert Feuillerat, John Calvin French, Samual Hemingway, Andrew Keogh, J. B. Lippincott & Co., William Lingelbach, Percy Lon, Josiah Penniman, Arthur Quinn, Philip Rosenbach, Felix Schelling, M. A. Shaaber, and Karl Young. The manuscripts include both original and revised Variorum editions. The Shakespeare editions are those compiled by other editors and have been subsequently marked up with notes for the Variorum. The notebooks contain act/line/scene notes, index entries, and source information for individual Variorum editions. The fourth series contains oversize items from the brothers' scrapbook from Harvard.
Gift of the Furness Family, 1930-1937
- Furness, Louise Brooks Winsor
- Furness, Horace Howard, Mrs.
- Furness, William Henry
- Furness, Horace Howard
- Shakespeare, William
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Elizabeth Williamson
- Finding Aid Date
- Use Restrictions
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