Since at least the 1950s Senate House Library has described its Shakespeare holdings as a particular strength. Last Friday Karin Brown, librarian of the Shakespeare Institute in Birmingham, came to see them. On a visit hosted by Dr Richard Espley (Academic Liaison Librarian, British, Irish and Post Colonial Literatures and Languages) and Dr Karen Attar (Rare Books Librarian), exhibits included editions of Shakespearean works, Shakespearean sources, evidence of Shakespeare in performance (early-nineteenth-century playbills and a theatrical journal containing a review of an early-twentieth-century production), Shakespeare in Catalan, and a pamphlet, Shakespeare: A Marxist Interpretation, translated from the Russian of A.A. Smirnov. The quirkiest item was The Fifth of November, or, The Gunpowder Plot (1830), described on the title page as ‘an historical play, supposed to be written by William Shakespeare’ and inscribed: ‘From the Author’. Two books on display especially appreciated were the first edition of Reginald Scot’s Discoverie of Witchcraft (1584), a text used for Macbeth, and The Raigne of King Edward the Third (1599), one of only five recorded copies in the United Kingdom of a play misattributed to Shakespeare.
We hope for further liaison with Birmingham.