University of Nebraska-Lincoln

shakespeare banner


The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries has a strong collection of materials relating to Shakespeare and his works. The Shakespeare First Folio is the premiere volume in the collection that also includes rare quartos printed in the 1600s and 1700s, books that were owned by distinguished individuals, engraved illustrations of scenes from the plays, and prompt books as far back as the 1770s for Shakespearian actors at Covent Garden and Drury Lane, London.
shakespeare photo


The University Libraries First Folio

The 1623 edition of Shakespeare’s works is known as the “First Folio” because it was the first printing of all of his plays in one volume. The First Folio includes thirty-six plays arranged by comedy, history, and tragedy. Eighteen of the plays had not been published prior to this volume.

Among the former owners of this copy of the first folio edition of Shakespeare’s plays was the author and antiquary John Gage Rokewode (1786-1842), a descendant of Ambrose Rookwood, a co-conspirator of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, which was an organized attempt to assasinate King James I. Rokewode studied law under Charles Butler, and after being admitted to the bar in 1818, he was appointed a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and the Royal Society. From 1829 to his death, he was director of the Society of Antiquaries. His published works include several monographs and essays on Suffolk history, medieval social history, archaeology, and the study of illuminated manuscripts. See: Sidney Lee (ed.), Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. XLIX (New York: The Macmillan Co., 1897), 156-57.

The University Libraries First Folio was donated in 1991 by Sidney Johnsen Wayland in honor of her father, Johnny Johnsen. It is the two millionth volume of the University Libraries collections. In 1971, Johnny Johnsen donated the one millionth volume to the University Libraries, The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer (1542).


If you have questions about this exhibit, please contact the Archives & Special Collections

This page was last updated February 23, 2012.