The Folger Shakespeare Library


Dramatic paratexts – the extra-dramatic printed materials found primarily in playbooks’ preliminary and closing pages, and which include title pages, commendatory poems, dedications, cast lists, and more – represent a rich, and yet largely unexamined, source of information about all aspects of the production, reception and transmission of dramatic literature in the early modern period.

Early Modern Dramatic Paratexts (EMDP) offers complete and fully-searchable transcriptions of all paratexts included in playbooks printed during the era of professional theatres, along with metadata from paratexts’ associated playbooks. EMDP allows users to search both paratexts and playbooks by keyword, play title, playbook author, paratext type, publication date, stationer, and STC/WING, DEEP and Wiggins numbers. EMDP’s paratextual entries link to entries from the Database of Early English Plays (DEEP), created by Alan Farmer and Zachary Lesser, whose collaboration we gratefully acknowledge.

Early Modern Dramatic Paratexts represents a digitized and expanded version of Paratexts in English Printed Drama to 1642, edited by Thomas L. Berger and Sonia Massai and published by Cambridge University Press in 2014. EMDP Phase 1 (in progress) digitizes the two-volumes of the printed Paratexts in English Printed Drama to 1642. Phase 2 will expand the contents of EMDP to include all English dramatic paratexts printed between 1642 and 1660, based on work by Heidi Craig.

EMDP’s other major bibliographic sources include W.W. Greg, A Bibliography of the English Printed Drama to the Restoration, 4 vols. (London: Bibliographical Society, 1939-59), Alan B. Farmer and Zachary Lesser, Database of Early English Plays and Martin Wiggins and Catherine Richardson, British Drama 1533-1642, 9 vols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012-19).

  • Editors: Sonia Massai and Heidi Craig
  • Research Assistants: Michaela Baca, Lindsey Jones, and Cailey McCabe
  • Folger development team: Meaghan Brown, Sophie Byvik, Rebecca Niles, and Michael Poston
  • Early Modern Dramatic Paratexts gratefully acknowledges the support of the Center of Digital Humanities Research at Texas A&M University.