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Edwin Forrest Library and Collection

The Edwin Forrest collection documents the career of Forrest (1806-1872), a major nineteenth-century American actor, noted for his Shakespearean roles. Originally housed in the Edwin Forrest Home in Philadelphia, the Forrest Library includes over three thousand titles dating from the sixteenth through the early twentieth centuries. 

Engraving of Edwin Forrest.

Collection Overview

The Edwin Forrest collection provides some documentation of Forrest's business career, focusing on the latter part of his career (the 1860s and 1870s). Some private personal correspondence is housed in the collection, along with correspondence between Forrest and John Lawson. Legal materials include letters relating to Forrest's bitter and public divorce from his wife Catharine. The collection also includes scrapbooks, playbills, diaries, and accounts. The collection and Library were donated to the library in several stages between 1963 and 1989.

Note: For a full listing of correspondence, researchers must search in the main online catalog, Franklin.

The Edwin Forrest Library

Significant holdings of the library include English and American literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and a group of promptbooks linked with Forrest, some with annotations in his or other's hands. Items in the Forrest Library are cataloged individually in the library's online catalog, Franklin. A catalogue of the library was published in 1863.


Engraving of Edwin Forrest.
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Engraving of Edwin Forrest, with facsimile signature, Philadelphia (18--). Furness Theatrical Image Coll. P/Fo600.17 ML

Lithograph of Edwin Forrest as King Lear.
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Edwin Forrest as King Lear, lithograph [19th c], Furness Theatrical Image Coll. P/Fo600.18 ML

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