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ENGL 3000 Shakespeare for Non-Majors, an Introduction to Shakespearean Works Held in the Rare Books Collection

This guide highlights works Shakespearean and related early modern works held by the Rare Books Collection, Rare and Distinctive Collections.

King Lear and Queen Cordelia


Raphael Holinshed,  'King Lear and Queen Cordelia," History of England, Scotlande, and Ireland (1577)
Rare Books Collection, Rare and Distinct Collections, CU Boulder Libraries

Raphael Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland was first published in 1577, its publication was part of an Elizabethan movement meant to elevate the status of England though history, cartography, and literature.  It proved a commercial success, popular among those who could afford it.  Robert Devereux (later second earl of Essex) purchased the newly published edition in 1577 for his studies at Cambridge, a purchase that ran £1 6s., or roughly $620.00 U.S. dollars in 2021.

Shakespeare relied on Holinshed's Chronicles for his history plays - though with substantial changes - including King Lear and Macbeth (seen below). 


Raphael Holinshed, 'The Three Weird Sisters,' History of England, Scotlande, and Ireland (1577)

James VI of Scotland (crowned 1567), later James I
of England, in 1577, at the young age of ten.

Among the many departures from Holinshed's Chronicles account of Macbeth made by Shakespeare  to please James I (VI of Scotland), the Chronicle's 'three weird sisters,' seen above, were transformed into Shakespeare's significantly more frightening witches. 

See this guide's page on James, Shakespeare, and witchcraft.  

Rare and Distinctive Collections


Classroom: Norlin N345

Reading Room: Norlin M350B