Digital editions of English Renaissance drama

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Originally compiled by Brett D. Hirsch following the Folger Institute's 2013 Early Modern Digital Agendas institute, this article offers a working annotated bibliography of digital editions of English Renaissance drama, a bibliography of relevant criticism on the theory and practice of such editions, and a list of relevant reviews. Additions and updates are welcome.

Survey of digital editions

Many of the summaries below are adapted from Brett D. Hirsch and Hugh Craig, "'Mingled Yarn': The State of Computing in Shakespeare 2.0," in Digital Shakespeares, ed. Brett D. Hirsch and Hugh Craig, special issue of The Shakespearean International Yearbook 14 (2014): 3–35. The list is far from comprehensive; it includes only digital editions of English Renaissance drama that offer more than photo-facsimiles or simple transcriptions of early editions.

Active projects

Bodleian First Folio (2013–present; Open Access)

Offers high-resolution digital photo-facsimiles and diplomatic transcriptions of the Bodleian First Folio (Arch. G c.7.). All images and the TEI-compliant XML source are available to download and re-use on a Creative Commons BY 3.0 license. The project brings together the Bodleian Digital Library Systems and Services and the Oxford e-Research Centre, under the direction of Pip Willcox, Curator of Digital Special Collections.

Cambridge Works of Ben Jonson Online (2014–present; Subscription)

The print edition of the Works was published by Cambridge University Press in July 2012. The online edition presents a fully searchable version of the annotated modern-spelling print text, including all the original introductions, collations, and commentary, extended and complemented by a large and flexible array of textual, contextual, and archival materials. These include hundreds of digital images and dozens of searchable old-spelling transcriptions of the early printed versions of Jonson’s texts and some of the major manuscripts, and a comprehensive body of essays and archives necessary for full study of Jonson’s life, performance history, and afterlife. The project is published by Cambridge University Press and the Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London, under the General Editorship of Martin Butler.

Cambridge World Shakespeare Online (2009–present; Open Access/Subscription)

Provides a digital workspace and reference resource supporting research and collaboration among scholars, teachers, students and performers worldwide. CWSO will integrate the Cambridge World Shakespeare Encyclopedia, a general reference work, with the texts of the New Cambridge Shakespeare editions and other CUP holdings. Significant portions of this content will be accessible through a free, open and customizable workspace for general readers (the “home edition”). Additional functionality and content will be available by subscription for students, teachers, scholars, and theater professionals (the “professional edition”). CWSO will support external searches of partner archives in an encyclopedic, rational and dynamic way. An international team of scholars is developing core content. The project is a collaboration between Cambridge University Press, University of Southern California, and Bryn Mawr College, under the direction of Bruce R. Smith and Katherine Rowe.

Digital Renaissance Editions (2006–present; Open Access)

Publishes critical editions of early English drama and texts of related interest, supplemented by a Critical Companion of contextual essays and a database of performance materials. Editions include modern-spelling text with critical apparatus (collations of textual/editorial variants, annotations and commentary), photo-facsimiles and transcriptions of early editions, critical and textual introductions, and supplementary materials in various media formats. The project, under the Coordinating Editorship of Brett Hirsch, shares the publication platform developed by the Internet Shakespeare Editions at the University of Victoria.

Drama Online (2013–present; Subscription)

Publishes the modern-spelling texts from the Arden Early Modern Drama, Arden Shakespeare, and New Mermaids series, in addition to drama from other periods published by Faber & Faber and Bloomsbury Publishing Plc and their imprints. Texts retain the pagination and lineation of the print originals, as well as the annotations and notes, supplemented by archival photographic materials from V&A Images and relevant critical and reference works published by Bloomsbury.

Electronic New Variorum Shakespeare (1996–present)

Adapts the MLA New Variorum Shakespeare editions for Web-based publication. Under the General Editorship of Richard Knowles and Paul Werstine, Alan Galey is developing the prototype interface for the digitized volumes.

Folger Digital Texts (2012–present; Open Access)

Publishes the modern-spelling texts from the Folger Shakespeare Library editions (Simon & Schuster), retaining the page numbers and layouts of the print editions. The essays, illustrations, glosses, and notes of the print editions are not included. The TEI-compliant source code is freely available under a CC BY-NC license. The project is based at the Folger Shakespeare Library, overseen by Eric Johnson, the Director of Digital Access. The printed texts were edited by Paul Werstine and Barbara A. Mowat, while the digital texts were edited and encoded by Michael Poston and Rebecca Niles.

Folger Luminary Shakespeare (2014–present; Commercial iPad App)

A suite of iPad Apps created by Luminary Digital Media LLC (co-founded by Elliott Visconsi and Katherine Rowe) incorporating the texts of the Folger Shakespeare Library editions (Simon & Schuster), complemented with full audio recordings by professional actors, expert commentaries from leading scholars and teachers, images and video, and robust authoring and sharing tools.

Hamletworks (2005–present; Open Access)

Originally conceived by Bernice W. Kliman (General Editor) as a complementary off-shoot of her New Variorum Shakespeare edition of Hamlet, the site offers an electronic version of the Enfolded Hamlet (i.e., the Linked Enfolded Hamlet), a Four Hamlet Concordance, and digitized transcriptions of promptbooks, early editions, and a selection of critical and reference works. Frank Nicholas Clary, Hardin Aasand, Eric Rasmussen, Laury Magnus, and Marvin Hunt later joined the project as editors. Kliman passed away in 2011, though development of the site continues.

Internet Shakespeare Editions (1996–present; Open Access)

Publishes critical editions of Shakespeare's works, supplemented by contextual and critical essays and a database of performance materials. Editions include modern-spelling text with critical apparatus (collations of textual/editorial variants, annotations and commentary), photo-facsimiles and transcriptions of early editions, critical and textual introductions, and supplementary materials in various media formats. Selected editions adapted for print are published by Broadview Press as the Broadview/Internet Shakespeare Editions. The project is based at the University of Victoria, under the Coordinating Editorship of Michael Best.

Open Source Shakespeare (2003–present; Open Access)

Publishes the text of the 1864 Globe Edition of Shakespeare's works, with a concordance and search function. The database and source code is available for non-commercial use with acknowledgement. The project is based at George Mason University, under the Editorship of Eric Johnson.

Oxford Scholarly Editions Online (2012–present; Subscription)

Publishes electronic versions of the back-catalogue of print editions published by Oxford University Press, including seminal collected and complete works of Marlowe, Middleton, and Shakespeare (among others). All of the content of the originals is retained, though restructured for online presentation, so that textual notes are accessible alongside the text of a work no matter where they are located in the print original. An editorial board, under the leadership of Michael Suarez, S.J. and including Andrew Zurcher and Gordon Campbell, oversees the development of the project, published by Oxford University Press.

Philological Museum (1997–present; Open Access)

Publishes hypertext critical editions of Neo-Latin texts, including works of English Renaissance drama, as part of its Library of Humanistic Texts. Editions include texts in both the Latin original and English translation, annotations and commentary, and critical introductions. Most of the texts are edited by the project's General Editor, Dana F. Sutton. The project is hosted by the Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham, under the General Editorship of Dana F. Sutton and Associate Editorship of Martin Wiggins.

Queen's Men Editions (2006–present; Open Access)

Publishes critical editions of plays associated with the Queen's Men in a rich online environment, with multiple points of access to their theatrical, historical, and scholarly contents and contexts. Editions include modern-spelling text with critical apparatus (collations of textual/editorial variants, editorial and performance annotations, and commentary), transcriptions of early editions, critical, performance, and textual introductions, and supplementary materials in various media formats. The editions are complemented by an archive of performance materials produced by the Shakespeare and the Queen's Men project, Performing the Queen's Men, including filmed stage productions, interviews, photos, and production notes. The project, under the General Editorship of Helen Ostovich, shares the publication platform developed by the Internet Shakespeare Editions at the University of Victoria.

Richard Brome Online (2010–present; Open Access)

Publishes critical editions of Brome's plays, supplemented by additional critical essays, stage histories, a glossary, and video footage of workshop performances. Editions include modern-spelling texts with critical apparatus (annotations, glosses, textual notes signalling departures from the copy-text), a transcription of the copy-text, critical and textual introductions, and a gallery of recorded workshop material serving as video commentary on performance issues/cruces. The project is published by the Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield, under the General Editorship of Richard Allen Cave. An edition adapted for print is under contract with Oxford University Press.

The Shakespeare Collection (2006–present; Subscription)

Publishes the complete Arden Shakespeare (including texts, notes, introductions and commentaries), alongside digitized facsimiles of primary sources and historical editions (including the Octavo scans of F1 and various Quartos, as well as prompt books and the Gordon Crosse Theatrical Diaries), and full-text reference and critical works. The project is published by Gale, an imprint of Cengage Learning.

Shakespeare Quartos Archive (2009–present; Open Access)

Offers an interactive digital interface for the detailed study of Shakespeare's quartos. With plans to cover all of Shakespeare's plays in quarto, the prototype publishes full cover-to-cover digital photo-facsimiles and TEI-compliant diplomatic transcriptions of 32 copies of the early quarto editions of Hamlet. The project brings together resources and expertise from the Bodleian Library, the British Library, the University of Edinburgh Library, the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Huntington Library, the National Library of Scotland, the Shakespeare Institute, and the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities.

Inactive, completed, or uncertain projects

ArdenOnline (1999–2001; Subscription)

An online portal, published by Thomson Learning under the General Editorship of Peter Holland with Anthony Dawson and Barbara Hodgdon, offering the texts of the Arden2 (and Arden3 as they became available) alongside extensive production materials and newly commissioned articles and performance introductions.

Arden Shakespeare CD-ROM (1997; CD-ROM)

A CD-ROM, published by Thomas Nelson with Jonathan Bate as Consultant Editor, incorporating the texts and apparatus of the Arden2 editions, digitized reference works, and facsimile images of the First Folio and early Quartos.

Cambridge King Lear on CD-ROM: Text and Performance Archive (2000; CD-ROM)

A CD-ROM, published by Cambridge University Press and edited by Christie Carson and Jacky Brotton, incorporating the New Cambridge text of the play (edited by Jay Halio) as well as a conflated Finder Text to facilitate navigation between primary sources, editorial and critical material, and reference material.

Compendium of Renaissance Drama (1992–2016; CD-ROM)

An interactive database on CD-ROM, under the Editorship of Brian Jay Corrigan, featuring videos, finding lists, images, biographies, dictionaries (including a full character prosopography and topographical dictionary), maps, and synopses of every extant play to be performed in English on the English stage, 1485–1640. The Compendium also contains editions of the plays. Announced as forthcoming on SHAKSPER in 2002, it seems to have been translated to a web presence that directly mimics the CD-ROM (including a note 'about this disc').

Shakespeare's The Tempest (2012; Commercial iPad App)

An iPad App created by Luminary Digital Media LLC (co-founded by Elliott Visconsi and Katherine Rowe) designed for social reading, authoring and sharing, for all readers from students to professional scholars. Superseded by the Folger Luminary Shakespeare (see above).

Voyager Macbeth (1994; CD-ROM)

A CD-ROM edition, co-edited by David Rodes and A.R. Braunmuller, incorporating the latter's New Cambridge Shakespeare text and notes. The text is supplemented by an audio recording of the play by the Royal Shakespeare Company, directed by Trevor Nunn, and starring Ian McKellan (Macbeth) and Judi Dench (Lady Macbeth), as well as video clips from films (including the Orson Welles, Roman Polanski, and Akira Kurosawa productions) and still images from other productions. Compatible with Mac and PC.

Relevant criticism

The critical literature on digital editing and editions is vast; the list below is therefore limited to studies concerned (at least primarily) with Renaissance English drama.

Editorial theory and practice

  • Best, Michael. "Afterword: Dressing Old Words New." Early Modern Literary Studies 3, no. 3 (1998): 7.1–27. Full text.
  • Best, Michael. "'Bi-fold Authority': The Electronic Re-creation of Shakespeare."'This Earthly Stage': World and Stage in Late Medieval and Early Modern England. Ed. Brett D. Hirsch and Christopher Wortham. Turnhout: Brepols, 2010. 17–38.
  • Best, Michael. "Forswearing Thin Potations: The Creation of Rich Texts Online." Mind Technologies: Humanities Computing and the Canadian Academic Community. Ed. Raymond Siemens and David Moorman. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2006. 1–14.
  • Best, Michael. "Introduction: A Booth at the Fair." Early Modern Literary Studies 9, no. 3 (2004): 1.1–14. Full text.
  • Best, Michael. "Shakespeare and the Electronic Text." A Concise Companion to Shakespeare and the Text, ed. Andrew Murphy. Malden: Blackwell, 2007. 145–61.
  • Best, Michael. "Shakespeare on the Internet and in Digital Media." The Edinburgh Companion to Shakespeare and the Arts. Ed. Mark Thornton Burnett, Adrian Streete, and Ramona Wray. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2011. 558–76.
  • Best, Michael. "Standing in Rich Place: Electrifying the Multiple-Text Edition or, Every Text is Multiple." College Literature 36, no. 1 (2009): 26–39.
  • Best, Michael. "The Internet Shakespeare Editions: Scholarly Shakespeare on the Web." Reinventing Digital Shakespeare. Ed. Alan Galey and Ray Siemens. Special issue of Shakespeare 4 (2008): 221–33.
  • Brockbank, Philip. "Towards a Mobile Text." The Theory and Practice of Text-Editing: Essays in Honour of James T. Boulton. Ed. Ian Small and Marcus Walsh. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991. 90–106.
  • Carson, Christie. "eShakespeare and Performance." Reinventing Digital Shakespeare. Ed. Alan Galey and Ray Siemens. Special issue of Shakespeare 4 (2008): 254–70.
  • Carson, Christie. "The Evolution of Online Editing: Where Will It End?" Shakespeare Survey 59 (2006): 168–81.
  • Donaldson, Peter S. "Digital Archive as Expanded Text: Shakespeare and Electronic Textuality." Electronic Text: Investigations in Method and Theory. Ed. Kathryn Sutherland. Oxford: Clarendon, 1997. 173–97.
  • Eggert, Paul. "Apparatus, Text, Interface: How to Read a Printed Critical Edition." Cambridge Companion to Textual Scholarship. Ed. Neil Fraistat and Julia Flanders. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2013. 97–118.
  • Finn, Patrick. "@ the Table of the Great: Hospitable Editing and the Internet Shakespeare Editions Project." Early Modern Literary Studies 9, no. 3 (2004): 2.1–29. Full text.
  • Forsyth, Jennifer. "Playing with Wench-like Words: Copia and Surplus in the Internet Shakespeare Edition of Cymbeline." Early Modern Literary Studies 9, no. 3 (2004): 3.1–27. Full text.
  • Foster, Donald. "A Romance of Electronic Scholarship; with the True and Lamentable Tragedies of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Part 1: The Words." Early Modern Literary Studies 3, no. 3 (1998): 5.1–42. Full text.
  • Gaby, Rosemary. "New Contexts for History: The Online History Play and Digital Creativity." Digital Shakespeares. Ed. Brett D. Hirsch and Hugh Craig. Special Issue of Shakespearean International Yearbook 14 (2014): 55–66.
  • Galey, Alan. "Dizzying the Arithmetic of Memory: Shakespearean Documents as Text, Image, and Code." Early Modern Literary Studies 9, no. 3 (2004): 4.1–28. Full text.
  • Galey, Alan. "Mechanick Exercises: The Question of Technical Competence in Digital Scholarly Editing." Electronic Publishing: Politics and Pragmatics. Ed. Gabriel Egan. Toronto and Tempe: Iter and Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 2010. 73–93.
  • Galey, Alan. "Networks of Deep Impression: Shakespeare and the History of Information." Shakespeare Quarterly 61, no. 3 (2010): 289–312.
  • Galey, Alan. "Signal to Noise: Designing a Digital Edition of The Taming of a Shrew (1594)." College Literature 36, no. 1 (2009): 40–66.
  • Gants, David L. "Drama Case Study: The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Ben Jonson." Electronic Textual Editing. Ed. Lou Burnard, Katherine O'Brien O'Keeffe, and John Unsworth. New York: MLA, 2006. 122–37.
  • Giddens, Eugene. "Digital Revolutions and Digital Delays: Electronic Editions of Renaissance Literature." Book 2.0, 1.1 (2011): 21–30.
  • Giddens, Eugene. "Reading Modern Editions." How to Read a Shakespearean Play Text. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. 147–72.
  • Hirsch, Brett D. "Digital Renaissance Editions." Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies 13, no. 4 (2014): 136–39.
  • Hirsch, Brett D. "The Kingdom Has Been Digitized: Electronic Editions of Renaissance Drama and the Long Shadows of Shakespeare and Print." Literature Compass 8, no. 9 (2011): 568–91. PDF.
  • Hirsch, Brett D., and Hugh Craig. "'Mingled Yarn': The State of Computing in Shakespeare 2.0." Digital Shakespeares. Ed. Brett D. Hirsch and Hugh Craig. Special issue of The Shakespearean International Yearbook 14 (2014): 1–34.
  • Holland, Peter, and Mary Onorato. "Scholars and the Marketplace: Creating Online Shakespeare Collections." Reinventing Digital Shakespeare. Ed. Alan Galey and Ray Siemens. Special issue of Shakespeare 4 (2008): 245–53.
  • Kliman, Bernice W. "A Plan for www.hamletworks.org: An Offshoot of the New Variorum Hamlet Project." Shakespearean International Yearbook 4 (2004): 135–67.
  • Kliman, Bernice W. "Print and Electronic Editions Inspired by the New Variorum Hamlet Project." Shakespeare Survey 59 (2006): 157–67.
  • Lancashire, Anne. "What Do the Users Really Want?" Early Modern Literary Studies 3, no. 3 (1998): 3.1–22. Full text.
  • Lancashire, Ian. "The Common Reader's Shakespeare." Early Modern Literary Studies 3, no. 3 (1998): 4.1–12. Full text.
  • Lancashire, Ian. "Encoding Renaissance English Texts." New Technologies and Renaissance Studies 1. Ed. William R. Bowen and Raymond G. Siemens. Toronto and Tempe: Iter and Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 2008. 243–60.
  • Lancashire, Ian. "The State of Computing in Shakespeare." Shakespearean International Yearbook 2 (2002): 89–110.
  • Lavagnino, John. "Bernice Kliman's Enfolded Hamlet." Women Making Shakespeare: Text, Reception, Performance. Ed. Gordon McMullan, Lena Cowen Orlin, and Virginia Mason Vaughan. London: Bloomsbury, 2014. 89–98.
  • Lavagnino, John. "Electronic Editions and the Needs of Readers." New Ways of Looking at Old Texts II. Ed. W. Speed Hill. Tempe: Renaissance English Texts Society, 1998. 149–56.
  • Lavagnino, John. "Two Varieties of Digital Commentary." Textual Performances: The Modern Reproduction of Shakespeare's Drama. Ed. Lukas Erne and M.J. Kidnie. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. 194–209.
  • Massai, Sonia. "Redefining the Role of the Editor for the Electronic Medium: A New Internet Shakespeare Edition of Edward III." Early Modern Literary Studies 9, no. 3 (2004): 5.1–10. Full text.
  • Massai, Sonia. "Scholarly Editing and the Shift from Print to Electronic Cultures." Textual Performances: The Modern Reproduction of Shakespeare's Drama. Ed. Lukas Erne and M.J. Kidnie. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. 94–108.
  • McCarthy, Ryan. "Remixing Richard." Locating Shakespeare in the Twenty-First Century. Ed. Gabrielle Malcolm and Kelli Marshall. Newcasle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2012. 93–105.
  • Mueller, Martin. "Digital Shakespeare, or Towards a Literary Informatics." Reinventing Digital Shakespeare. Ed. Alan Galey and Ray Siemens. Special issue of Shakespeare 4 (2008): 284–301.
  • Neville, Sarah. "Mediating Textual Annotation in the Online Scholarly Edition." Digital Shakespeares. Ed. Brett D. Hirsch and Hugh Craig. Special Issue of Shakespearean International Yearbook 14 (2014): 131–40.
  • Rasmussen, Eric. "Gilded Monuments and Living Records: A Note on Critical Editions in Print and Online." Early Modern Literary Studies 9, no. 3 (2004): 7.1–6. Full text.
  • Roberts-Smith, Jennifer, Shawn DeSouza-Coehlo, Teresa Dobson, Sandra Gabriele, Omar Rodriguez-Arenas, Stan Ruecker, Stéfan Sinclair, and Paul Stoesser with Alexandra Kovacs. "SET Free: Breaking the Rules in a Processual, User-Generated, Digital Performance Edition of Richard the Third." Digital Shakespeares. Ed. Brett D. Hirsch and Hugh Craig. Special Issue of Shakespearean International Yearbook 14 (2014): 67–98.
  • Rowe, Katherine. "Living with Digital Incunables, or: A 'Good-Enough' Shakespeare Text." Shakespeare and the Digital World: Redefining Scholarship and Practice. Ed. Christie Carson and Peter Kirwan. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. 144–45.
  • Siefring, Judith, and Pip Willcox. "More than was Dreamt of in Our Philosophy: Encoding Hamlet for the Shakespeare Quartos Archive." Digitizing Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture. Ed. Brent Nelson and Melissa Terras. Toronto and Tempe: Iter and Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 2012. 83–111.
  • Siemens, R. G. "Disparate Structures, Electronic and Otherwise: Conceptions of Textual Organisation in the Electronic Medium, with Reference to Electronic Editions of Shakespeare and the Internet." Early Modern Literary Studies 3, no. 3 (1998): 6.1–29. Full text.
  • Werstine, Paul. "Hypertext and Editorial Myth." Early Modern Literary Studies 3, no. 3 (1998): 2.1–19. Full text.
  • Werstine, Paul. "Past is Prologue: Electronic New Variorum Shakespeares." Reinventing Digital Shakespeare. Ed. Alan Galey and Ray Siemens. Special issue of Shakespeare 4 (2008): 208–20.
  • Worthen, W. B. "Performing Shakespeare in Digital Culture." Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and Popular Culture. Ed. Robert Shaughnessy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. 227–47.
  • Worthen, W. B. "Shakespeare 3.0: Or Text versus Performance, the Remix." Alternative Shakespeares 3. Ed. Diana E. Henderson. London: Routledge, 2008. 54–77.


Reviews of digital editions

  • Bolton, Whitney. "The Bard in Bits: Electronic Editions of Shakespeare and Programs to Analyse Them." Computers and the Humanities 24 (1990): 275–87.
  • Connor, Francis. "The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Ben Jonson Online and the Utility of the Digital Edition." Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 109, no. 1 (2015): forthcoming.
  • Desmet, Christy. "The Shakespeare Quartos Archive." Digital Shakespeares. Ed. Brett D. Hirsch and Hugh Craig. Special Issue of Shakespearean International Yearbook 14 (2014): 141–52.
  • Gants, David L. "Review of English Verse Drama: The Full-Text Database." Early Modern Literary Studies 2, no. 1 (1996): 15.1–11. Full text.
  • Hirsch, Brett D. "Bringing Richard Brome Online." Early Theatre 13, no. 1 (2010): 137–53. PDF.
  • Rasmussen, Eric. "Shakespeare's The Tempest, App for iPad." Digital Shakespeares. Ed. Brett D. Hirsch and Hugh Craig. Special Issue of Shakespearean International Yearbook 14 (2014): 159–61.
  • Siemens, R.G. "Review of The Arden Shakespeare CD-ROM: Texts and Sources for Shakespeare Study." Early Modern Literary Studies 4, no. 2 (1998): 28.1–10. Full text.
  • Trettien, Whitney Anne. "Disciplining Digital Humanities, 2010: Shakespeare's Staging, XMAS, Shakespeare Performance in Asia, Shakespeare Quartos Archive, and BardBox." Shakespeare Quarterly 61, no.3 (2010): 391–400.