The library is reference and non-lending. Collections are searchable online here.
Our Library holds distinctive collections with a unique focus on Shakespeare, his contemporaries and the society and culture that influenced and formed early modern theatre.
The collection focuses on scholarly publications that support Shakespeare and Early Modern Studies, especially in regard to theatre and performance history. The collection also addresses the history, building and use of our theatres: the Globe Theatre (the ‘wooden O’ recreation of the original Globe Theatre) and the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse (a recreation of an indoor Jacobean Playhouse). This comprehensive collection includes the following subject areas:
Shakespeare and Contemporary Performance
Shakespeare and other early modern playwrights
Elizabethan and Jacobean history
Early Modern material culture and staging practices
Performance-based research into space and audiences
Costume and dress
Shakespeare’s Globe houses a number of Special Collections, comprising of rare books and texts from Shakespeare and his contemporaries.
Rare Book Collection
A collection of rare books has been slowly building since the earliest days of the Globe project. They have accrued through generous donation from many benefactors who engaged with the mission to build a specialist collection in support of our research. This collection includes early modern printed books.
John Wolfson Rare Book Collection
A collection of works by Shakespeare and his contemporaries including: Christopher Marlowe, Ben Johnson, Thomas Middleton and John Ford. This collection has been pledged to the Globe by New York-based collector and author, John Wolfson, ‘to be used to great advantage by students, scholars and educators for generations to come’.
John Wolfson is the Honorary Curator of Rare Books at Shakespeare’s Globe.
The Canadian Library
This is the Library’s foundation collection donated in 1999 and is based on the research collections of two Canadian Shakespeare scholars, David Galloway and Don Rowan, who first discovered the Inigo Jones theatre drawings at Worcester College, Oxford. The books relate to Shakespeare, Shakespearean theatres and performance.
John Gielgud Collection
This collection was donated by the Gielgud Estate and consists of over 200 books about theatre, acting and actors. Gielgud was a theatrical pioneer who revolutionised modes of Shakespearean interpretation and performance. As a descendent of nineteenth-century theatrical aristocracy, the Terry family – he was a great nephew of Ellen Terry – he had theatre in his blood. A friend of Sam Wanamaker, Gielgud was a supporter of the Globe to which his collection is testimony.
Sidney Thomson Fisher Collection
Dr Sidney Fisher built a collection that sought to reconstruct the London of Shakespeare’s day. In 1973 Sidney Fisher, and his brother Charles, donated their collection of rare books to the University of Toronto, an act commemorated by the opening that year of the Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library. Decades later we received a donation of nineteenth and early twentieth-century books for our library from Fisher which, alongside the collection at Toronto, provide a rounded picture of Fisher’s collecting aims and interest.
Malone Society Reprints
The Malone Society was founded in 1906 on the initiative of A. W. Pollard (1859 – 1944), a bibliographer renowned for bringing a higher level of scholarly rigour to the study of Shakespearean texts. Its mission was to make critical editions of early modern original textual authorities so that reference to the originals would not be necessary. The name of the Society commemorates Edmond Malone (1741 – 1812) an early Shakespearean who collected and made available material for the study of Elizabethan and Jacobean drama. The Globe’s holdings of the Society’s reprints were the collection of the Shakespearean scholar I. A. Shapiro (1904 – 2004).