1928 painting of Pollard

Alfred William Pollard, FBA (14 August 1859 – 8 March 1944) was an English bibliographer, widely credited for bringing a higher level of scholarly rigor to the study of Shakespearean texts.


"How at the Castle of Corbin a Maiden Bare in the Sangreal and Foretold the Achievements of Galahad", Arthur Rackham's illustration to Pollard's The Romance of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table (1917).

Pollard was born at 1 Brompton Square, Kensington in London, the youngest son of a doctor, Edward William Pollard.[1] He was educated at King's College School in the Strand and St John's College at the University of Oxford. Unable to teach due to his pronounced stammer, he joined the staff of the British Museum in 1883, as assistant in the department of printed books; he was promoted to assistant keeper in 1909, and keeper in 1919.[1] In the latter year, Pollard was appointed professor of English bibliography at the University of London. He was honorary secretary of the Bibliographical Society from 1893 to 1934 and edited the society's journal The Library for thirty years (1903–34). He received the society's gold medal in 1929.[2]

Pollard married Alice England of Newnham College in 1887[3] and there were two sons and a daughter. But during the war his two sons were both lost in action: his oldest, Geoffrey Blemell Pollard, a Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery was killed in the fighting near Le Baseé, France on 24 October 1914. Then a year later, on 13 October 1915, his second son Roger Thompson Pollard, a Lieutenant in the 5th Royal Berkshire Regiment, was also killed. Pollard wrote a memorial, Two Brothers. Accounts Rendered, which was privately printed for friends in 1916, and a year later issued by Sidgwick and Jackson.[4]

Pollard wrote widely on a range of subjects in English literature throughout his career, and collaborated with various scholars in specialized studies; he edited Sir Philip Sidney's Astrophel in 1888, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (Globe edition, 1898), a collection of Fifteenth Century Poetry and Prose (1903) and Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur (1910–11, in four volumes). His Shakespeare Folios and Quartos: a Study in the Bibliography of Shakespeare's Plays, 1594–1685, published in 1909, remains an important milestone in Shakespearian criticism.[3]

With Gilbert Richard Redgrave, he edited the STC, or A short-title catalogue of books printed in England, Scotland, & Ireland and of English books printed abroad, 1475–1640 (1926).[5] He provided a bibliographical introduction to a facsimile print of the 1611 King James Bible which was produced for its three hundredth anniversary. His contemporary friends included the poet A. E. Housman and the artist Walter Sickert, and he was a close colleague of the prominent Shakespeare scholars Edmund Kerchever Chambers and R. B. McKerrow.[1]

In 1935 Pollard suffered a fall while gardening which seriously affected him, but he lived another nine years, dying at Wimbledon Hospital, aged 85, survived by his daughter.[1] He is buried with his wife Alice (1857-1925) in the churchyard of St Mary's Church, Wimbledon.[6]


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  1. ^ a b c d Greg, W.W. 'Pollard, Alfred William' in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004)
  2. ^ "Gold medalists | The Bibliographical Society". Retrieved 31 August 2023.
  3. ^ a b Obituary, The Times, 9 March 1944, p.7
  4. ^ 'Alfred W. Pollard: The Man, His Books, and His Other Literary Endeavors', at My Sentimental Library
  5. ^ Gibson, Elizabeth. "Research Guides: Interlibrary Loans: Getting Started". guides.library.queensu.ca. Retrieved 31 August 2023.
  6. ^ "Alice Pollard 24 May 1857 - 22 June 1925 in BillionGraves GPS Headstones | BillionGraves". billiongraves.com. Retrieved 31 August 2023.
  7. ^ "Review of Records of the English Bible, edited with an introduction by Alfred W. Pollard". The Antiquary. 47: 239. June 1911.
  8. ^ "Review of Fine Books by Alfred W. Pollard". The Athenaeum (4436): 528. 2 November 1912.
  9. ^ "Shakespeare Lectures". The British Academy.