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Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature: Specialist Subject Resources

Subject support from Library Services for staff and students in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature.

Cadbury Research Library

Manuscript from the Mingana Collection, Cadbury Research Library

The Cadbury Research Library, in the Muirhead Tower, is the home for  Special Collections and Archives of the University of Birmingham. The collections comprise approximately 200,000 pre-1850 books dating from 1471 and some 4 million manuscripts. The Cadbury Research Library welcomes all interested users, both staff and students of the University and members of the public.

Opening hours

  • Monday - 10am – 5pm
  • Tuesday - 9am – 5pm
  • Wednesday - 9am – 5pm
  • Thursday - 9am – 7pm
  • Friday - 9am – 5pm

Please note: requests for material must be placed by 4.15pm, or 4.30pm on Thursdays. If you are visiting on our late Thursday opening but are arriving after 4.30pm, you will need to pre order the material you wish to consult.

Closed days

The Cadbury Research Library is closed on all University closed days.

Drama and Theatre Resources in Cadbury Research Library

Cadbury Research Library Special Collections holds a number of important archive collections including a Theatre Collection of some 5,000 printed articles, cuttings, playbills and photographs relating to theatre performances in London and the provinces during the 20th century. They also have the personal papers of playwrights and actors such as Noel Coward, Beatrice Campbell (Mrs. Patrick Campbell) and Norman Painting

For a list of full related archives collection available for research, see our Drama and Theatre Subject Resource Guide. Please contact the Cadbury Research Library for further information. 

Specialist Libraries at the University of Birmingham

Special Collections in Shakespeare & Renaissance Literature at the University of Birmingham

The University of Birmingham is home to a number of rare books and significant collections on Shakespeare's text and his plays in performance:



Housed at the Cadbury Research Library is the Theatre Collection—a vast amount of press cuttings and publicity material from productions from 1921-1962.

At the Shakespeare Institute Library you'll find the following special collections on theatre:

Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre Archive: previously known as the New Shakespeare Company, Regent's Park was the most significant outdoor space for Shakespeare in performance until the establishment of The Globe in 1996. The archive dates back to the 1960s. To find out more about the collection check this SIL blog.

Actor’s Script Collection: this collection includes the work of Samuel West and Jasper Britton in major Shakespeare roles. For more information on research areas around actor's scripts check the SIL blog. The Cadbury Research Library holds an annotated script belonging to Laurence Olivier from when he played Hotspur in I Henry IV in 1945.

Renaissance Theatre Company Archive, the company ran by Kenneth Branagh in the late 1980s/early 90s—prompt books from this collection are accessible online via the Virtual Manuscript Room



The Russell Jackson Collection: Prof. Jackson is textual advisor to Kenneth Branagh and others working on Shakespeare in film. The collection contains the script for all of Branagh's Shakespeare cinematic output and other significant Shakespeare related films such as Shakespeare in Love. The files contain press & publicity material, storyboards and detailed notes, including filming schedules and memos from director to textual advisor.

 Unpublished Film Script Collection: the SIL holds a number of scripts for Shakespeare films that have never been published, including Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet, Peter Brook's King Lear, Christine Edzard's As You Like It, Kenneth Branagh's Love's Labour's Lost.

Animated TalesPapers relating to 'Shakespeare: the Animated Tales', collected by Professor Stanley Wells, Director of the Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon, and Literary Adviser on the Academic-Educational Advisory Panel for the project.



The Shakespeare Institute Library also houses a number of special collections on textual editing and criticism. The work ofTrevor Howard-Hill – the editor of several Renaissance plays including Middleton’s A Game at Chess; the archive of Brian Vickers who compiled one of the greatest sources on early criticism of Shakespeare’s plays: Shakespeare: a critical heritage – covering several volumes from 1623-1801. the Shakespeare Institute Library also houses Editorial Guidelines for the Oxford Shakespeare (contributed to by 2 academics that worked at the Shakespeare Institute); and the Cambridge Schools Shakespeare.

The Cadbury Research Library holds three letters, dated 14 August, 19 September and 2 October 1874, from Mary Cowden Clarke to Matthew Mason, printer and publisher, concerning revisions to be made to The Complete Concordance to Shakespeare and a six-page manuscript prospectus for 'The Shakespeare Key', which was published in 1879. These can be access via the Virtual Manuscript Room.

The notes and correspondence of previous Directors of the Shakespeare Institute are held at the Cadbury Research Library, including Terence Spencer and John Allardyce Nicoll.



The Shakespeare Institute Library holds a collection of newscuttings on Shakespeare and other Renaissance writers going back to 1902. The collection is fully indexed and a wonderful research tool for many aspects of Shakespeare studies. More information available on the SIL blog.


Rare Books

The Cadbury Research Library contains a large collections of rare books from the English Renaissance period: first editions of the First Folios of Ben Jonson and Beaumont and Fletcher; source materials such as Plutarch and Holinshed's Chronicles; contextual texts such as Stowe's Survey of London, Gerard's Herbal, James I's collected works, etc.

To find rare books contained in the Cadbury Research Library use FindIt@Bham. Their detailed archive catalogue is available from this web page. Further information about their services and facilities can be found on their website:


Specialist Libraries

19th century journals in the Barber Fine Art Library

  • You can use the COPAC catalogue to search the collections of approximately 90 major UK and Irish libraries in a single search. Library collections listed include Oxford and Cambridge Universities, the British Library and libraries at the National Trust and Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew.
  • If you wish to visit another UK university library, you might be eligible for a SCONUL card. This will allow you reference access to a large number of academic libraries around the UK. For more information on using other libraries please look at Access Schemes

Finding Books

Findit@Bham is the place to start looking for printed books and ebooks.  For tips on how to make the most of searching Findit see the help page.  If the University doesn't have the book you want try COPAC