Wealthy US collector John Wolfson has pledged his huge collection of Shakespearean texts, some of which are thought to be worth millions, to Shakespeare’s Globe. The collection has been built up over the course of more than 30 years, and contains a large number of play texts by Shakespeare (including a rare first folio) and the playwrights that influenced him, including Christopher Marlowe, Ben Johnson and Thomas Middleton. The collection numbers over 450 works in total, and will be passed over after Wolfson’s death.

The donation marks something of a homecoming for the texts, many of which were originally written to be performed in the landmark Southbank venue. Speaking about his donation, Wolfson, himself a sometime playwright, said: “I consider myself fortunate to have found a place as appropriate for my books as Shakespeare’s Globe. For here it will be possible for the collection which I have put together, to remain together, and to be used to great advantage by students, scholars and educators for generations to come.”

Globe chief executive Peter Kyle said: “We are delighted and privileged that John Wolfson has bequeathed his wonderful collection to us … We are running a fundraising campaign for a new library to appropriately store and give access to these rare books to the wider world.” It is hoped the new library will increase the Globe’s appeal as a destination for students and Shakespeare scholars from around the world.