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Shakespeare collection donated to UCLA's Clark Library

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UCLA's Clark Library is to receive a collection of 72 books related to Shakespeare that includes a 1685 fourth folio of his works, two histories that formed the basis of his plays and a 1603 book by Montaigne that introduced the playwright to the words "adulterous," "miraculous," "depraved" and "scandalous." The collection is worth just under $2 million.

The books, published between 1479 and 1731, were collected by Paul Chrzanowski, 60, a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories. He admits that while some bibliophiles consider their books too precious to page through, he's read 90% of the works in his collection.

"Shakespeare left no diary, personal letters, handwritten manuscripts of his plays or notes in his own handwriting, so scholars really have to scour possible sources for connections," said Bruce Whiteman, the Clark Library's head librarian. "With a couple of exceptions, the collection only contains books that Shakespeare read or could have read."

Located miles from the UCLA campus in the West Adams district, the Clark Library may be one of L.A.'s best-kept literary secrets. Constructed by William Andrews Clark Jr. and named for his father, it was constructed in the 1920s to house Clark Jr.'s rare-books collection, and is open weekdays to researchers. This Wednesday evening, it opens its doors even wider, with an exhibit celebrating the 400th anniversary of Galileo's discovery of the telescope.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: This 1623 copy of the first folio edition of William Shakespeare's plays went up for auction in 2006; it is not included in the donation to the Clark Library. Credit: Matt Dunham / Associated Press

 
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