J.O. Halliwell-Phillipps

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James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps (1820–1889), was an antiquary, literary scholar, and major collector of Shakespearean works and related documents. Born James Orchard Halliwell, he acquired the surname Phillipps in 1872 following the death of his father-in-law, Sir Thomas Phillipps.

Halliwell began collecting while still at William Henry Butler's school in Brighton. By 1839, at the age of 19, Halliwell had become a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and published his first pamphlet on collecting, A Few Hints to Novices in Manuscript Literature. As Arthur Freeman and Janet Ing Freeman note in their Oxford DNB biography, “Halliwell's own book-trading behaviour was not always as scrupulous as his scholarship,” and accusations of theft occurred at several points throughout his career as a collector — not the least from his own father-in-law, with whom he had a contentious and troubled relationship.[1] While the accusation that Halliwell stole the second known “bad quarto” of Hamlet (1603) from his father-in-law “is demonstrably untrue,” the Freemans suggest that some other accusations, such as the 1845 accusations that Halliwell had “abstracted” scientific manuscripts from Trinity College, might have some now-unprovable basis in fact.[2]

Halliwell-Phillipps published widely on matters of collecting, reprints of early pamphlets and items in his collections, and on Shakespeare's life and plays. His Shakespearean publications included the monumental Outlines of the Life of Shakespeare (published six times between 1881 and 1887) and a number of shorter pamphlets and "Memoranda" on various plays. After conflicts with the Stratford authorities in his final years, his collections, intended originally for Stratford, were sold to Marsden J. Perry of Providence, Rhode Island. Henry Clay Folger acquired the bulk of these collections in 1908.

Notable items now at the Folger

Halliwell-Phillipps Bookplates

Signatures and manuscript marks

Other methods of indicating provenance


  1. Arthur Freeman and Janet Ing Freeman, ‘Phillipps, James Orchard Halliwell- (1820–1889)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 27 Jan 2015
  2. Ibid.