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Shakespeare in Special Collections


The birth of William Shakespeare is traditionally dated to April 23, 1564.  We know he was born in late April because parish records in his birthplace of Stratford show that he was baptized on April 26.  It has been convenient to speculate that Shakespeare’s birthday is April 23 since we know he died on that day in 1616.

The library has not actively collected historic editions of Shakespeare, choosing to focus its collecting efforts in rare 19th-century literature instead.  Yet Special Collections still has several important Shakespeare items, including a small collection of leaves from the 1623 First Folio (a page from Richard III is shown above).  We also own copies of Julius Caesar and King Lear printed during the English Restoration.

Students and scholars who wish to study the First Folio and other earliest printings of Shakespeare’s poems and sonnets can visit Special Collections to consult facsimiles of these books on CD-ROM. These digital facsimiles feature searchable text and can be accessed in our reading room.  They can also be made available for class visits to Special Collections.

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