Shakespeare and the early modern period
At the core of the library is its systematic collection of publications on William Shakespeare and his age, including English drama from the beginnings to 1642. There is a representative range of criticism and scholarship on other aspects of the early modern period: poetry and prose, history and politics, theology, law and the arts. This is supplemented by more selective sections on literary theory (with an emphasis on drama) and theatre history, especially English and European.
Facsimiles and original editions
The library owns facsimiles of Shakespeare Quartos and Folios as well as of many non-Shakespearean texts from the early modern period. Our holdings also include reprints of most major Shakespeare editions from the eighteenth and ninetenth century. There is a small but growing collection of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Shakespeare criticism in original editions.
Shakespeare in Germany
We have substantial holdings on Shakespeare's reception both inside and outside of Britain, with the reception of Shakespeare in Germany a natural focus of interest. German Shakespeare translations from the eighteenth century to contemporary stage versions and adaptations are among the highlights of the library's possessions; they are complemented by an extensive collection of secondary literature on various aspects of translating Shakespeare into German.
Our theatre archive currently holds around 30 000 reviews of both established and experimental Shakespeare productions in the German-speaking countries, going back to the 1960s. Materials in the archive include programs, photographs and posters generously provided by the theatres themselves.
The library also owns more than 14 000 scholarly essays (photocopies and printoffs), manuscripts, typoscripts, theatre scripts and other material ineligible for inclusion in the University Library's electronic catalogue. In a considerable number of cases, our copy is the only one existent. The digitization of this material remains a challenge, to be addressed in the very near future.
Our monographs are searchable through the University Library's Electronic Catalogue. For all other holdings, our card catalogue continues to be updated. This catalogue is currently also the only one to document the detailed system of cross-references that the library has used for every item acquired since its foundation in 1964.