Shakespeare in the Royal Library

Shakespeare in the Royal Library

Attributed to John Cheere, William Shakespeare, late-18th century

Royal Collection Trust / (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2015


To mark the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, the Queen has opened Windsor Castle to display treasures illustrating the Royal Family’s love of the Bard.

The exhibition, “Shakespeare in the Royal Library,” features books, maps, prints, and works of art showing how generations of monarchs since Elizabeth I have enjoyed the work of Britain’s greatest dramatist.


Some of Shakespeare’s plays were written with performance at the royal court in mind. The comedy “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” which directly links the playwright to the historic town and the Castle, was performed in front of Elizabeth I in around 1600. There are a number of copies of “The Merry Wives of Windsor” in the Royal Collection, including a colorfully bound manuscript presented to Queen Mary in 1917. It showcases an embroidered image of Windsor Castle on the front cover.windsor3A manuscript dated 1607 shows views of Windsor Castle and the surrounding area as Shakespeare would have known it. Created for Henry, Prince of Wales (eldest son of James I,) “The Description of the Honor of Windesor” is one of only two copies and includes locations and landmarks mentioned in “The Merry Wives of Windsor.”


One of the highlights of the exhibition is a copy of the Bard’s second folio annotated by both Charles I and George III. Charles I probably read the 1632 collection of plays while he was imprisoned at Carisbrooke Castle before his execution. He was taken from the Isle of Wight to London and beheaded in 1649, following his conviction for high treason during the English Civil War.

Picture shows: Charles I’s annotated copy of Shakespeares Second Folio, 1632

 Charles I inscribed the words “Dum Spiro Spero” (While I Breathe, I Hope) on the flyleaf of the book and wrote the names of some of the characters from Shakespeare’s comedies on the contents page.

Exhibition curator Elizabeth Clark of Royal Collection Trust said: “This exhibition commemorating 400 years since Shakespeare’s death is a wonderful opportunity to show through many of the Royal Library’s greatest treasures the Royal Family’s lasting interest in Shakespeare and his plays.”

Shakespeare in the Royal Library, Windsor Castle, runs from 13 February 2016 to 1 January 2017.




The Fabulous Festetics Palace Library


Library of Festetics Palace, Keszthely, Hungary. Image Courtesy of Wolfgang Glock, Wikipedia.

Located in Keszthely, Zala, is Hungary’s sole remaining aristocratic library; collected by the Festetics family for 200 years. The library is known for its two-story, historic, 100,000-volume collection, which was miraculously saved from destruction during the World War II. The collection includes copies of early printed books, unique prints, scientific and art books, together with a music collection of manuscripts by Haydn, Pleyel, and Goldmark. Just as impressive is the golden oak shelving and furniture carved in 1801 by local craftsman János Kerbl.


Festetics Palace. Image Courtesy of Orobola, Wikipedia



The Festetics Palace, now the Helikon Castle Museum ranks as Keszthely’ s major attraction. Construction was started at the beginning of the 18th century, by Kristof Festetics, and reached its final neo-baroque form in 1887. With some 111 halls and rooms, this is one of the largest palaces in Hungary.

Festetics Palace Library. Image Courtesy of


Kristof Festetics began the construction of the Festetics Palace in 1745. The two-story, U-shaped, 34-room Baroque palace was rebuilt several times in the 18th and 19th centuries. Between 1769 and 1770 Paul Festetics III, Kristof’s son had the building reconstructed. The wings were enlarged while the facades remained unaltered. His son, George Festetics I, started the next major reconstruction in 1792. He had a whole wing built for his library, where the books were kept on neoclassical bookshelves made of Slavonian oak.

Helikon Library, reading room, Festetics Palace in Kesztehely, Hungary, Europe
Helikon Library, reading room, Festetics Palace in Kesztehely, Hungary, Europe

George Festetics also expanded the collection with works on Hungarian literature and science, the philosophical literature of the age of Enlightment, the newest works on economy, and a remarkable amount of newspapers and magazines. The books, which were invaluable in themselves, were bound in artistically decorated leather bindings.

Library of Festetics palace, Keszthely


Library of Festetics palace, Keszthely, via Pinterest

Between 1883 and 1887 Tassilo Festetics II had the northern wing demolished and a new wing built, and almost doubled the size of the palace.


Library at Festetics Castle in Hungary via Pinterest