The Folger Shakespeare Library

“The play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.”

—Hamlet plans to stage The Murder of Gonzago at court to determine whether his uncle, Claudius, murdered his father, King Hamlet.

Act 2, Scene 2, lines 633-34

Read the full play.

From the Collection

Hamlet in Klingon

The Folger collection includes copies of Hamlet in myriad languages, including one in the original Klingon, published in 2000. 

Sh.Col. 257-432q

Read more about Star Trek at the Folger in Sarah Hovde’s Shakespeare and Beyond blog post.

 

David Garrick’s preparation promptbook of Hamlet

David Garrick used this 1747 edition of Hamlet to prepare a production of the play for the 1772-73 London theatre season. 

PROMPT Ham. 16

Read more about Garrick’s acting, directing, and celebrity on Folgerpedia.

Toy theater featuring characters from Olivier’s Hamlet

This 1948 toy theater commemorates Laurence’s Olivier’s film Hamlet, released the same year. Each copy included an abridged version of Hamlet, scenery backdrop pages, and character cutouts.

ART Vol. e218 copy 2

See the toy theatre in action in Sarah Hovde’s Shakespeare and Beyond blog post.

Abigail Adams letter quoting Hamlet

Abigail Adams wrote this letter to Catherine Elizabeth Rush in 1816. In it, she paraphrases Hamlet, act 1, scene 3, line 69: “his Heart and Soul are my familiar Friend’s and as Such, in the Language of Shakespear – ‘I Grapple him to my Soul with hooks of Steel’…”

Y.c.9 (1)

Read more about Abigail Adams and Shakespeare in Abbie Weinberg’s Collation blog post.

Staffordshire pottery of John Philip Kemble as Hamlet

This mid-19th century figurine was one of the original items displayed in the Folger Exhibition Hall. Before exhibitions began rotating through the space, a permanent selection of the collection was on display, including printed books, manuscripts, paintings, and a smattering of figurines.

ART Inv. 1073 (realia)

See 1930s photographs of the Exhibition Hall in Erin Blake’s Collation blog post.

Listen to stories about John Philip Kemble and other famous Shakespearean actors on the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast.

We will continue adding more to this page over time. Stay tuned! 

 

Buy your own copy of the Folger Edition of Hamlet