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Don Quixote Collection

Identifier: SCA-0002

Scope and Contents

The Don Quixote Collection is comprised of eleven editions of Miguel De Cervantes’ Don Quixote plus three volumes of related works. The collection contains original and facsimile editions in English, Spanish, and Italian, in a variety of sizes and bindings, and related works by other authors. Illustrated editions and various adaptations are also represented among the volumes in the collection, representing the variety of ways in which Don Quixote has been produced and adapted throughout its four centuries of publication.

Highlights of the collection include an original copy of the earliest complete translation of Don Quixote by Thomas Shelton from 1620, the first known commentary based on Don Quixote from 1654, and a 1784 edition of the spurious Part II of Don Quixote, written by Alonso Fernandez de Avellaneda. The Don Quixote Collection allows users to interact with print culture across several centuries as seen through the production of this exceptional literary masterpiece.


  • 1620-1933


Contact Department of Special Collections and Archives. Staff may restrict access at its discretion on the basis of physical condition.


The Don Quixote Collection is physically owned by the Queens College Libraries. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assignees. The collection is subject to all copyright laws. Queens College assumes no responsibility for the infringement of copyrights held by the original authors, creators, or producers of materials.

Historical Note

Cervantes’ masterpiece, El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha (The Imaginative Gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha), was first published in 1605 by Francisco de Robles and printed at the shop of Juan de la Cuesta in Madrid. The book saw great success and was published over three dozen times in Spanish alone throughout Europe. Translations of the work began almost immediately after its release and by 1612 the first English translation by Thomas Shelton had been published.

Throughout the seventeenth century, the popularity of Don Quixote would lead to many stage adaptations like plays, musicals, and ballets. Don Quixote’s impact on literature throughout Europe, particularly in eighteenth-century England and France, would lead to its unprecedented reproduction in print.

Cervantes’ masterpiece has been published and translated more than any other book, except for the Bible, and serves as an important source of inspiration for artists, musicians, playwrights, and novelists up to the present day.

Biographical Note

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was baptized in the town of Alcala de Henares on October 9, 1547. While no record of his birthdate exists, he may have been born on Saint Michael’s Day (September 29). His family moved frequently during his childhood, eventually settling in Madrid when he was 19. His earliest known works were published by his teacher in Madrid as part of a commemorative volume dedicated to the late queen Isabel de Valois.

In order to avoid being arrested for injuring another man, Cervantes moved to Rome in 1569 and served briefly in the house of a priest before enlisting in the Spanish army. He fought valiantly at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 where he received wounds which permanently maimed his left hand. After completing his military service in 1575, Cervantes attempted to return to Spain, but was captured en route by Turkish pirates and sold into slavery until ransomed in 1580.

Upon returning to Spain, Cervantes attempted to make a living as a playwright and author but found little success. It was during this period that he wrote his first novel, La Galatea (1585). Eventually, Cervantes found work in the Royal Commissary and as a tax collector. It is thought that it was in these years in the 1590s that Cervantes wrote much of Don Quixote. The first part was published in 1605 and afforded Cervantes great success.

While he continued to write, Cervantes did not publish any new work until 1613. At this point, Cervantes published several works in short order, including his Novelas Ejemplares (1613), El viaje del Parnaso (1614), and part two of Don Quixote and Ocho comedias y ocho entremeses, nunca representados (1615). His final work, Los trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda, was completed shortly before his death on April 19, 1616 and published posthumously in 1617 by his widow.


Mancing, H. (2006). Cervantes' Don Quixote: A reference guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.


3 Linear Feet (22 volumes comprising 13 editions)

Language of Materials



The Don Quixote Collection is comprised of valuable editions of and related works about Miguel De Cervantes’ Don Quixote spanning over 300 years. The collection contains original and facsimile editions in English, Spanish, and Italian, in a variety of sizes and bindings, and related works by other authors.

Arrangement Note

Volumes in the collection are arranged chronologically by their date of publication.

Don Quixote Collection, 1620-1933
Justin Mancini and Christine Parker
Fall 2011
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Queens College (New York, N.Y.) Special Collections and Archives Repository

Queens College Library, CUNY
Benjamin Rosenthal Library RO317
65-30 Kissena Boulevard
Flushing 11367 USA us