The Shakespeare Collection

The Shakespeare Collection boasts copies of the second (1632), third (1664), and fourth (1685) folios of Shakespeare’s plays, adding significant scholarly value and depth to its holdings. 

In essence, the collection serves as a comprehensive archive documenting the early editions of Shakespeare’s works. It encompasses 17th-century quarto versions of individual plays as well as the multi-volume sets containing the complete works edited in the 18th and 19th centuries. Our holdings also include translations into the major European languages. 

The Shakespeare Collection is housed in the Special Collections Research Center.

History of the collection

The Shakespeare Collection has its origins in the acquisitions of two private libraries: one belonging to Edward Hughes Thompson in 1882 and the other to Joseph Crosby, Esq. in 1885. 

These purchases laid the foundation for what is now known as the McMillan Shakespeare Library, named in honor of James McMillan, a generous benefactor who facilitated these acquisitions. McMillan, who later became a United States senator for Michigan in 1889, played a pivotal role in the establishment and enrichment of the collection.

Materials in the collection

Cover of "KING LEAR. Acted at the Duke's Theatre."

Title page for The History of King Lear by William Shakespeare, printed for E. Flesher (1681).


Photograph of Juli McLoone, a white woman with red hair, dark blonde at the roots, and blue eyes, wearing purple.
Juli McLoone



Pablo Alvarez

Curator, Special Collections Research Center