Early Modern English Books
There are 37 Shakespeare titles in the collection,
including several first editions of quarto playbooks
and a First Folio which contains
Shakespeare’s collected dramatic works.
The group of ‘Early Modern English Books’ includes all the books at the Fondation Bodmer printed in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and British America, and English books printed elsewhere, between the 1470s and 1700. The rationale for inclusion in or exclusion from the present catalogue are strictly those applied by two standard reference works known as STC and Wing. Based on these criteria, there are 174 early modern English books at the Bodmer, the earliest being a copy of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales printed by William Caxton, England’s first printer, around 1483.
The most popular early modern English author at the Bodmer Library is, of course, William Shakespeare. Today, there are 37 Shakespeare titles in the collection, including several first editions of quarto playbooks and a First Folio which contains Shakespeare’s collected dramatic works. The Library also holds a rich collection of Restoration adaptations of Shakespeare plays, and indeed works by Shakespeare’s most well-known fellow authors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, including Edmund Spenser, Ben Jonson, George Chapman, John Donne, and John Milton.
In addition to these literary highlights, the Bodmer’s treasures include a range of greatly influential books from the spheres of religion, the natural sciences, mathematics and philosophy. Amongst these are Henry VIII’s Great Bible (1539), Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica (1687), John Napier’s Logarithms (1614), and Sir Francis Bacon’s Advancement of Learning (1605). All of these books demonstrate Martin Bodmer’s commitment to acquiring outstanding editions of historically and culturally important works.
 A. W. Pollard and G. R. Redgrave, comp., A Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland and Ireland, and of English Books Printed Abroad, 1475-1640, 2nd edn (London: The Bibliographical Society, 1976-1991); Donald Wing, comp., Short-Title Catalogue of Books Printed in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and British America, and of English Book Printed in Other Countries, 1641-1700, 2nd edn, 4 vols. (New York: MLA, 1972-1998).
Shakespeare in Geneva
Describing each item in the collection, Shakespeare in Geneva, written by Lukas Erne and Devani Singh, shows the importance of Shakespeare to Martin Bodmer and documents how the latter built his collection from 1914 onwards.
The Bodmer Foundation’s collection of Early Modern English Books consists of 174 titles, printed in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and British America, and English books printed elsewhere, dating from between the late fifteenth and the end of the seventeenth century. Particularly remarkable is the greatest set of early Shakespeare editions outside the English-speaking world, which has hitherto been little known. Read
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