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Rare Books

Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08540
Curator of Rare Books

In 1944, a collection of editions of Shakespeare's works (some 2,500 volumes) was presented to the Library by Henry N. Paul '84. Consists of editions which appeared during the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries. They include editions such as the Boydell (see below) and the Halliwell-Phillips Shakespeare. Also many popular editions of their times, such as the Billy Jones edition (printed in Leipzig, published in London). This is one of only two known copies-- Princeton's being the finer copy.

The collection includes not only Shakespeare, but also works which throw light upon Shakespeare's world or works which inspired the dramatist. The collection is rich in books on natural science, Puritan and Anglican theology, witchcraft, and history. Refer to: Henry L. Savage '15, "The Shakespearean Library of Henry N. Paul '84" in the Princeton University Library Chronicle XVII, 1 (Autumn, 1955) pp. 49-50 [full text] .

Folios and quartos

Princeton also possesses the First Folio of Shakespeare, and it is a perfect copy. It was received by the Library in 1928 from the family of William Augustus White of Brooklyn, New York. The Library also has the Second, Third and Fourth Folios as well.

Princeton acquired its first Shakespeare quartos in 1947-48 upon receipt of 450 choice books and manuscripts from the library of Cyrus H. McCormick '79. These were: A Midsummer Nights Dream (1600) and Poems (1640).

For further particulars regarding original quarto editions refer to: Gerald Eades Bentley, "Eleven Shakespeare Quartos" in the Princeton University Library Chronicle XXX, 2 (Winter, 1969) pp. 69-76 [full text]. This article reports on and lists 11 quarto editions of Shakespeare received from Daniel Maggin and, his son, Donald L. Maggin '48.

Among the rarest is the 1598 Love's Labor's Lost, which is the first play to be printed with Shakespeare's name on the title page.

The American Edition of Boydell's Illustrations...of Shakespeare is also in the Library with its large number of prints from well-known artists of the day. Published in New York, 1852 [(Ex) 3925.598.1852e].

Also see the catalogue: Special exhibits in the Princeton University Library. I. Shakespeare tercentenary: exhibit relating to the life of Shakespeare, important early editions of his works, original illustrations by Cruikshank, contemporary editions of Shakespeare's sources. (Princeton, 1916) [(P)94 P912.87.02 and (P) 51.74.33]. Also printed on pp. [93]-103 of Princeton University Library. American Library Association Visit June 29, 1916. (Princeton, 1916) [(ExB) 0639.7373.7]