University of Erfurt

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The Theatre Library of Duchess Charlotte (1751 - 1827)

About Duchess Charlotte of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg and her literary and scientific interests

About Charlotte Amalie of Saxe-Meiningen little is known. She grew up in Frankfurt am Main and Meiningen and married at the age of 18 years in 1769 to Prince Ernst of Gotha, who ruled from 1772 as Duke Ernst II of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg (1772-1804). In older literature she was characterized as simply uneducated, "but uncorrupted". She gained astronomical knowledge and shared the love Ernst's for astronomical observations. After the death of her husband, she travelled with the Gotha court astronomer Franz Xaver von Zach (1754-1832) through France and Italy, where she married Zach later in life. She survived her four sons, only two of whom survived to adulthood. Her special love was the theatre and she recorded, on her journey to Italy in 1807, at least 24 visits to the theatre within half a year. Duchess Charlotte is buried in Genoa. 

Origin, Extent and Morphology of the Theatre Library

Abbildung: Typischer Band aus der Theaterbibliothek  Herzogin Charlotte

The visiting of theatre performances and libraries belonged to the compulsory pleasures of a noble journey in 1800, as evidenced by the scale of the Duchess Charlotte theatre library, that she already handed over to the ducal library in 1787 and is a testimony of her special love for the performing arts. Charlotte may also have been involved in the establishment of the Gotha Court Theatre carried out from 1775 by Ernst. Nature and circumstances of the emergence of the theatre library are not known. Of the approximately 1,000 titles 90% have survived in the research library today. They are usually equipped with a simple soft cover, stapled together with a single thread and recognizable by the shelfmarks in the traditional catalogue of the collection.

Character and Structure of the Theatre Library

Abbildung: Band aus der Theaterbibliothek Charlottes

In addition to the large antique, English, French, Spanish and German playwrights, the library contains a number of anonymously published spectacles in numerous small and occasional printing. The French-language texts predominate.

The Catalogue of the Theatre Library

When the catalogue (FB Gotha Chart. A 2324) of the Theatre Library Duchess Charlotte was created, and by whom, is not known. It lists in alphabetical order of authors or titles both monographs and texts contained in collections of plays and work editions of individual authors.

Used Literature

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