Skip to main content
Senate House Library

Granville-Barker Collection

The Collection 

Subject: English literature

941 volumes, mostly in English and dating from the twentieth century, devoted to drama: both works about the theatre, and editions of plays written between the sixteenth and the twentieth centuries. The collection’s particular strength is Shakespeareana, including editions of Shakespeare’s plays in several series, contemporary dramas such as Malone Society publications, and supporting studies and works of criticism. The highlights are volumes of the Arden Shakespeare, rendered unique and for students of Shakespeare in performance fascinating by Granville-Barker’s copious annotations to eleven of the twelve plays discussed in his trailblazing Prefaces to Shakespeare. Granville-Barker has also annotated some critical works. 

Other points of interest are presentation copies to Granville-Barker; limited, illustrated editions of Shakespeare produced by Ernest Benn, to which Granville-Barker contributed the introductions; a few other limited editions; and about 75 late-eighteenth-century plays published by John Bell (1745-1831), whose series Bell’s British Theatre (where the plays owned by Granville-Barker were also published) was among the first cheap reprint series of the eighteenth century. 

Most of the books are from the library of the playwright, actor and theatre director Harley Granville-Barker (1877-1946; see ODNB). Smaller quantities of books were given to the British Institute in Paris in 1937 by Frederick Nathan, of whom no further is known, and by the British Council. The entire collection was transferred to Senate House Library from the University of London Institute in Paris in 2011.


For an overview of the library, do a mixed classmark search on [G.-B.C.]. An author search on “Granville-Barker, Harley” as former owner will isolate items owned by him. The collection is held off-site and material requires 48 hours (excluding weekends) to be fetched.

Related materials 

  • MS978/6/2/4, Correspondence within the Sturge Moore papers 
  • MS800/III/310, correspondence within the Cammaerts papers 
  • MS1194 and MS1204, typescript plays owned by Granville-Barker. 

Further reading 

Richard Ashby, ‘“But when extremities speak”: Harley Granville-Barker, Coriolanus, the World Wars and the State of Exception’, Shakespeare Survey, forthcoming.