A stolen volume of William Shakespeare's collected plays, published in 1623 and worth about $2.5 million, has been recovered thanks to the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington.

Police in Durham, in northeast England, were questioning a 51-year-old man in connection with the case. The book known as Shakespeare's First Folio -- the first published collection of the bard's plays seven years after his death -- was stolen from Durham University in 1998.

Shakespeare scholars and rare-book lovers on both sides of the Atlantic hailed the news.

The break in the case came June 16 when a man with a British accent arrived without an appointment at the Folger Library. He had a book that he said came from his family in Cuba and wanted the experts there to tell him if it was a genuine and important volume by Shakespeare.

"From time to time people have asked us to help them to figure out what a book might be," said library spokesman Garland Scott. "On the other hand, usually those people have called or e-mailed beforehand."

The library contacted the FBI. It could not immediately be determined if the man in custody is the man who visited Folger. The suspect lives in a modest, brick, two-bedroom home in a working class neighborhood of Washington, England -- about a 15-minute drive from the university where it was stolen. There was a silver Ferrari in his driveway and Armani suits in the closets. The man lived there with his mother, in her 80s, who told police her son "buys and sells books."

WASHINGTON POST