E. Beatrice Batson
Shakespeare Collection
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The Focus of the Shakespeare Special Collection at Wheaton College is unique among Shakespeare collections in its focus on the Christian tradition in Shakespeare's works. Since the eighteenth century, numerous scholars have done outstanding thinking and writing on ways in which the Christian tradition intersects the language of Shakespeare's writings. Some have examined biblical influences on his works; others have studied large theological and doctrinal concepts embodied in his writings, and others have focused on the Christian implications of his works as well as on specific moral, spiritual, ethical, and aesthetic topics. At present, however, no library has brought together these various works in one collection and in one place. The Shakespeare Special Collection at Wheaton College is undertaking this ongoing and significant project.

The Purpose of the Shakespeare Special Collection

The Shakespeare Special Collection attempts to bring together the very best scholarship available on the Christian dimension of Shakespeare’s dramas, sonnets, and poems. Acquiring the best critical works (essays, books, articles, and other materials, both old and contemporary) is a priority. The Collection is intended to serve as a vital center for scholarly activities of professors, students, and Shakespeare enthusiasts, particularly in the area of Christian higher education. It is a place where scholars can do research for articles and books, where professors may become more aware of possibilities for teaching from a Christian perspective, and where any reader may better understand the Christian dimension of Shakespeare’s works.

Present Holdings of the Shakespeare Special Collection

The collection has among its holdings a beautiful leather-bound Fourth Folio of Henry IV, Part I and II (London, 1685), a facsimile copy of the First Folio (1623), various editions of the dramas, a facsimile copy of the 1602 Geneva version of the Bible (perhaps the major source of Shakespeare’s frequent biblical allusions), and a few promptbooks. Resources also include background materials on Shakespeare’s era, bibliographic guides, and concordances. Among the critical materials are over 1000 books and more than 2000 articles and essays.  Scores of professionally produced videos, including videos of the dramas and on the teaching and performing of the plays, are also in the collection.

The Shakespeare Institutes

The Shakespeare Collection periodically sponsors institutes on some facet of Shakespeare and the Christian tradition. The Shakespeare Institutes, designed primarily for college teachers of Shakespeare or for any individuals interested in the subject of the Christian dimension of Shakespeare’s writings, bring together stellar Shakespearean scholars for lectures, seminars, and discussion. The lectures delivered at each institute have been  recorded on audio cassettes and are available for purchase from the Media Resources center of Wheaton College. For additional information about the institutes or to obtain details on upcoming institutes, please contact the Shakespeare Collection at Buswell Library.  In addition to the institutes, occasional seminars are held for the community.

History of the Shakespeare Special Collection

At the retirement of Dr. E. Beatrice Batson as professor of English and Chair of the English Department at Wheaton College, friends and colleagues presented her a Fourth Folio copy of Henry IV, Part I and II, as a tribute to her contribution to Wheaton and in the hope that the gift be the first item in a new special Shakespeare collection in her honor.  After seeking counsel from the personnel of the prestigious Folger (Washington, D. C.) and Newberry (Chicago) Libraries, and with the help of a newly-formed Advisory Committee, specific work began on the E. Beatrice Batson Shakespeare Collection, as the collection is officially known. Since 1991, Dr. Batson has given most of her time to the development of the collection and to the achievement of its goals. She is the collection’s coordinator.

Access to the Shakespeare Special Collection

The collection is housed in Buswell Library at Wheaton College. It is a teaching-research collection open to any Shakespearean scholar, enthusiast of Shakespeare, or student doing research. Works in the collection may be examined on the premises but are not available for check-out and circulation. Books and videos are listed in Buswell Library’s computerized Public Access Catalog.  The article database is available for computer browsing. Hours of the Buswell Library are found at the library's website. Research appointments are appreciated: call  the Archives and Special Collections, at (630) 752-5705, fax (630) 752-5987, or email.

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