Herzogin Anna Amalia Library at Weimar

The Shakespeare Collection of the Herzogin Anna Amalia Library

This collection comprises about 10000 volumes today; the holdings, established by the German Shakespeare Society, are steadily expanded. It was founded in 1864 with the aim of providing all the resources for studying Shakespeare in one place. This aim could be fulfilled at the beginning, but the growing number of publications and limited funds, especially since World War I, made this increasingly difficult.

The holdings divide into several subgroups which were defined as early as 1864. The first group consists of complete and partial editions as well as anthologies and separate editions of Shakespeare's works (Sign. A and B). The complete editions contain about 100 mainly multi-volume titles before 1900 beginning with the earliest critical (and illustrated) edition of the works by Nicholas Rowe (1709-1710). This is joined by other 18th century editions, e.g. by Lewis Theobald (revised edition 1772), Edward Capell (1767-68), and especially those of the 19th century, among them as many as 11 versions of the annotated Variorum-Editions based on the texts by Edmond Malone and George Steevens. Furthermore there are editions by Thomas Campell (1838), J. P. Collier (1842-1853), James O. Haliwell (1853-1865), Nicolaus Delius (1854-1860, including further impressions), Alexander Dyce (1857), Thomas Keightley (1864) etc. as well as early photolithographic facsimiles of the first folio (Staunton, 1866) and the quartos.

The group containing the translations of Shakespeare's works is more comprehensive (Sign. C and D). The German section alone amounts to about 70 (mainly multi-volume) editions of translations of the whole work or of parts of it (including poetry and sonnets) and about 180 translations of single works, all of them before 1900. Original editions of the translations by Ch. M. Wieland (1762-1766), J. J. Eschenburg (1775 to 1782, including revised editions) and A. W. Schlegel (1797-1801) are among them as well as the originals of most translations of the 19th century, e.g. by J. H. Voss and his sons (1818-1819), Joseph Meyer (1824-1828), J. W. O. Benda (1825-1826), Ernst Ortlepp (1838 to 1840), A. Keller/M. Rapp (1854), Max Moltke (1865) etc., some of them in several non-identical editions.

The translation of the complete works by Schlegel and Tieck is abundantly represented in many editions, reprints and revised editions. German Shakespeare editions with contributions by several translators are also extant in great numbers, beginning with the earliest example of this kind (Vienna 1811-12) and including those compiled by Julius Körner (1836), Friedrich Bodenstedt (1867), F. Dingelstedt (1867), Max Koch (1882-84) and others.

Among the translations of individual plays there are also stage adaptations (e.g. five adaptations of Hamlet by Friedrich Ludwig Schröder, 1777, 1778, 1781, 1782, 1795), and - similar to the single editions in English- annotated, artistically illustrated and bibliophile volumes. Thus, together with the Shakespeare holdings scattered across other collections of the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek the history of Shakespeare's work in the German language can be traced almost completely from its beginnings up until the early 20th century. Also notable are historical Shakespeare translations in 23 further languages with strongest holdings in French, Polish and Hungarian.

The largest group (Sign. F) comprises - in roughly alphabetical, not chronological order - secondary literature about Shakespeare. Due to the masses of German literature which were collected continually from the middle of the 19th to the early 20th century - books as well as articles extracted out of rare journals and private printings - this group is of interest with respect to the history of Shakespeare criticism. It is somewhat unique, although one has to consider that especially the German Shakespeare reception has been too intense as to be traced only in the special literature collected in this group.

Complementing the collection are studies about the history of English literature and drama at Shakespeares's time (Sign. E), among them an edition of the "Englyshe Votaries" by John Bale dating from the year 1550. As a rule, however, this group contains 19th century editions of works by the most important Elizabethan and Jacobean contemporaries of Shakespeare's. A smaller section called "Varia" (Sign. G) offers some material on the theory of drama and the history of theatre in the 19th century, e.g. theatre records, letters by actors and biographies of actors, moreover music and illustrated material. A further section (Sign. H and K) consists of older, partly rare Shakespeare journals and bibliographies. A small collection of autographs (Sign. Hs) contains, among others, Wilhelm Oechelhäuser's annotated copies of the "Ulricische Shakespeare Edition", which he used while working on his stage adaptations. In addition it offers a series of promptbooks of Jocza Savits' Munich Shakespeare Stage (around 1900).

In 1994 the German Shakespeare Society transferred the ownership of the Shakespeare collection to the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek, which had administered it as a deposit collection for 130 years. It has to be noted that in addition to this collection presented in closed arrangement there are more than one thousand further Shakespeareana in the general holdings of the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek, most of which were collected before the foundation of the German Shakespeare Society (1864).


[printed] Katalog der Bücherei der Deutschen Shakespeare-Gesellschaft in Weimar. [Catalogue of the Library of the German Shakespeare Society in Weimar] Weimar 1951. 358 p. - Sign.: HB 00-0075

[printed] Katalog der Deutschen Shakespeare-Gesellschaft. Nachtrag 1950-1960. [Catalogue of the German Shakespeare Society. Supplement 1950-1960] Weimar 1960. 116 p. - Sign.: HB 00-0075

The bibliographic records of the Shakespeare literature published before 1850 are retrievable in the online-catalogue of the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek at http://wwwopac.ub.uni-weimar.de/. The conversion of the titles after 1850 is well under way and will be completed in 2004. Moreover an alphabetic card catalogue of the holdings of the German Shakespeare Society is available in the Renaissance Hall.

Werner Habicht/Michael Knoche


Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek
Stiftung Weimarer Klassik
Platz der Demokratie 1
D-99423 Weimar
Tel. 03643 54 5200

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Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek