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Pedro Calderon De La Barca Collection

Identifier: SPC-1900-006

Scope and Contents

The plays in this collection are written in Castilian Spanish, and revolve around the themes of love, honor, and faith. Calderon used both the royal court and mythology as inspiration for his characters. For example, El medico de su honra follows a story of Prince Henry of Trastamara while El mayor encanto amor reenacts the encounter Ulysses has with Circe. The main character from El magico prodigioso sells his soul to the devil. The two parts of La hija del aire depict the historical story of the Assyrian queen Semiramis. Regardless of origin, Calderon’s characters generally personify Spanish nationalistic traits, such as loyalty to Church and King and an extremely heightened sense of honor.

This collection also includes Calderon’s four plays usually classified as zarzuelas (musical comedies), originally composed between 1648 and 1660: El jardin de Felerina, El golfo de las sirenas, El laurel de Apolo, and La purpura de la rosa. These plays contain many references to people in the royal court of Spain and were written to commemorate a special occasion. The plots for zarzuelas were generally taken from mythological stories.

These plays are organized into two series. The first, referred to as "Imprentas Catalans," are publications from Barcelona. The second is called "Salamanca, Madrid, Burgos" which contain publications acquired from those cities.


  • 1763-1796

Conditions Governing Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Director of Archives and Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical materials and not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.


The dramatist, poet, and writer Pedro Calderón de la Barca y Barreda González de Henao Ruiz de Blasco y Riaño, known more often as Pedro Calderón de la Barca, was born in Madrid and lived from January 17, 1600 to May 25, 1681. Although educated at the Colegio Imperial, the Jesuit College in Madrid, he decided to study law instead of immediately joining the priesthood, although there is no evidence he ever practiced as a lawyer. Instead he found his calling as a writer first by winning several poetry contests and later with his first play: Amor, honor y poder, performed at the royal palace in June of 1623.

Calderon helped define the second Spanish Golden Age of theatre, perfecting the Spanish Baroque style previously established by Lope de Vega. Commissioned by King Philip IV to write plays for the royal theatre, Calderon was made a Knight of the Order of Santiago in 1637. The themes in his plays are both philosophical and complex, featuring plots of introspection as well as honor and tragedy. Calderon was a perfectionist and often rewrote his plays even after they debuted, sometimes cutting scenes and meters to create a uniformity of style and structure.

In the 1650s, Caldaron joined the Spanish priesthood, and later decided to give up writing secular dramas in favor of autos sacramentales, one-act morality plays that focus on the mysteries of the Eucharist. He was appointed to the position of chaplain to Philip IV, which he held for the rest of his life.


3 boxes

1 linear foot

Language of Materials

Spanish; Castilian


This collection includes over 50 published scripts of comedia plays written by De Don Pedro Calderon De La Barca, one of Spain’s greatest dramatists. While these plays were originally written in the 17th century, the collection contains 18th century publications from Spain. The 17th century Spanish comedia were adventure plays, full of action and imaginative places but also dealt with love affairs, issues of honor, and Spanish patriotism and traditions, praising the monarch as the hero of the people.


Arranged in two series:

  1. Series I. Imprentas Catalans, 1763-1785, undated
  2. Series II. Salamanca, Madrid, Burgos, 1796, undated
Inventory of the Pedro Calderon de la Barca Collection
Finding aid prepared by Marie Beckermann
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English and Spanish.

Repository Details

Part of the California State University Dominguez Hills, Gerth Archives and Special Collections Repository

University Library South -5039 (Fifth Floor)
1000 E. Victoria St.
Carson CA 90747