Neale Albert with Works of William Shakespeare, 40 vols. (London: Allied Newspapers, 1904), bound by Jana Pribíková, 2005

Yale’s latest exhibition on William Shakespeare is decidedly pint-sized. This summer, the university is displaying almost 100 miniature books of writing by and about the Bard as part of an exhibit called “The Poet of Them All.”

These teeny, tiny bound books, all less than 3 inches tall, are a donation from Neale Albert, a Yale Law School grad and avid miniature book collector. The miniature versions of Shakespeare’s sonnets and plays are all covered with unique binding and cover designs commissioned by Albert over the past 10 years from prominent bookbinders from all over the world. Some of the books themselves date back to the 19th century. 

American binder Gabrielle Fox tooling with gold leaf, Queen Mab (Cincinnati: Squiggle Dot Press, 2007), photograph courtesy of Tom Allen


There are also 39 bound and illustrated copies, published in 2009, of the lyrics and music of “Brush Up Your Shakespeare,” a song in Cole Porter’s 1948 musical Kiss Me, Kate from which the title of the exhibit was taken. 

Brush Up Your Shakespeare (New York: Piccolo Press, 2009), bound by Angela James, 2011, in goatskin with red, white, and printed calfskin onlays, Collection of Neale and Margaret Albert


King Henry IV, Part 1 from Shakespeare’s Works (New York: Knickerbocker Leather and Novelty Company, ca. 1910), bound by George Kirkpatrick, 2007, in leather with embossed silver covers, shown with casket enclosure made of resin, board, and leather, with paint and gold tooling, Collection of Neale and Margaret Albert


Julius Caesar from Shakespeare’s Works (New York: Knickerbocker Leather and Novelty Company, ca. 1910), bound by Santiago Brugalla, 2004, in goatskin with tooling and miniature hand-painted portrait medallions on front and back covers by John Hodgson, Collection of Neale and Margaret Albert

Brush Up Your Shakespeare (New York: Piccolo Press, 2009), bound by Derek Hood, 2010, in goatskin with multiple colored goatskin onlays, Collection of Neale and Margaret Albert


"The Poet of Them All" is at the Yale Center for British Art from June 16 to August 21, 2016. 

 All images courtesy the Yale Center for British Art