List of Shakespeare reference materials

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This article lists wide-ranging reference works that provides entry points for research on Shakespeare and a variety of topics. For more articles like this one, please consult the Research guides article.

General Background

The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare, ed. Dobson and Wells (new ed. 2015)—Folger call number: PR2892 .O94 2015

The New Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare, ed. De Grazia and Wells (2nd ed. 2010)—Folger call number: PR2894 .C33 2010

The Cambridge Guide to the Worlds of Shakespeare, ed. Smith (2016)—Folger call number: PR2976 .C295 2016 Vol. 1 – “Shakespeare’s World, 1500-1660”; Vol. 2 – “The World’s Shakespeare, 1660-Present”

A Companion to Shakespeare, ed. David Scott Kastan (1999)—Folger call number: PR2910 .C66 1999

The Reader’s Encyclopedia of Shakespeare, ed. Campbell and Quinn (1966)—Folger call number: PR2892 .C3 copy 1 RR Older but has information that is not always available in more recent “companions.”

The various Companions provide articles on special subjects such as the Chamberlain’s-King’s Men; Licensing and Censorship; Reading the Bible and the Classics; Shakespeare and Race, Sexuality and Gender; Popular Culture; Media History; and Shakespeare’s London.

Biography

Quick and Comprehensive:

ODNB article by Peter Holland

Overview:

Lois Potter, Life of William Shakespeare (2012)—Folger call number: PR2894 .P68 2012

Stanley Wells, William Shakespeare: a very short introduction (2015)—Folger call number: PR2976 .W367 2015

Detailed:

S. Schoenbaum, William Shakespeare: a Documentary Life, 2 vols. (1975)—Folger call number: PR2894 .S31 copy 1 RR; PR2894 .S33 1981 copy 1 RR

S. Schoenbaum, William Shakespeare: A Compact Documentary Life (1977) PR2894 .S32 copy 2 RR

Classic, historical review of the documentary evidence for Shakespeare’s life. Should now be used with Shakespeare Documented for most current interpretation.

Concordance

OpenSource Shakespeare Concordance

First Folio

Peter W.M. Blayney, First Folio of Shakespeare (1991)—Folger call number: Z8811 .B62 1991 Copy 1 RR

Foliomania! : Stories behind Shakespeare’s most important book, ed., by Owen Williams, with Caryn Lazzuri. (2011, 2016)—Folger call number: Folio PR3070 .F62 2011

Emma Smith, The Making of Shakespeare’s First Folio (2015)—Folger call number: PR3071 .S65 2015

Anthony James West, The Shakespeare First Folio, vol. 1 The History of the book; vol. 2 Worldwide Census (2001; 2003)—Folger call number: Z8813 .W48 2001 Copies 1 and 2, RR

Money in Shakespeare’s Time

Robert Bearman, Shakespeare’s Money: How Much Did He Make and What Did This Mean? (2016)—Folger call number: PR2908 .B43 2016

Numbers of Words, Sentences, Speeches, Prose and Poetry in Shakespeare

Marvin Spevack, The Harvard Concordance to Shakespeare (1973)—Folger call number: PR2892 .S653 copy 1 RR

Marvin Spevack, Complete and Systematic Concordance to the Works of Shakespeare (1968-80)—Folger call number: PR2892 .S65 RR

Both of these are based on early computer lexical analysis.

Plays

Interpretive questions involving words and lines: best answered by looking at the notes in the Folger edition and the new Arden, followed by the new Cambridge and Oxford editions (all in the Reading Room).

Larger issues: “Texts and Contexts” series for 10 individual plays are excellent for discussions of important topics and excerpts from original source material – find by searching Bedford as keyword and “texts and contexts” as a keyword phrase in Hamnet.

Printing of Shakespeare

Andrew Murphy, Shakespeare in Print: A History and Chronology of Shakespeare Publishing (2003)—Folger call number: PR3071 M87 2003 copy 2 RR

See Also:

Blayney (above) on First Folio

Articles in David Kastan, Companion (above), especially:

  • "Shakespeare in print, 1593-1640" by Thomas L. Berger and Jesse M. Lander
  • "'Precious few': English manuscript playbooks" by William B. Long
  • "The craft of printing, 1600" by Laurie E. Maguire
  • "The London book-trade in 1600" by Mark Bland
  • "Liberty, license, and authority : press censorship and Shakespeare" by Cyndia Susan Clegg

Pronunciation

Gary Logan, The Eloquent Shakespeare: a Pronouncing Dictionary (2008)—Folger call number: PR3081 .L64 2008

Louis Colaianni, Shakespeare’s Names: a New Pronouncing Dictionary (2001)—Folger call number: PR3081 .C83 1999

Shakespeare’s Original Pronunciation [sound recording – British Library Board, 2012]—Folger call number: CD 558

Nice YouTube piece on original pronunciation done by Linguist Ben Crystal with his actor son Ben Crystal at the New Globe in London.

Shakespeare’s Theater

(see also the general Companions listed in section 1)

Andrew Gurr, The Shakespearean Stage, 1574-1642, 4th ed. (2009)—Folger call number: PN2590 .S7 G9 2009

Tiffany Stern, Documents of Performance in Early Modern England (2009)—Folger call number: PR658 .T4 S74 2009

Shakespeare’s Theatres and the Effects of Performance, ed. Farah Karim Cooper and Tiffany Stern (2013)—Folger call number: PR3091 S53 2013

James Shapiro, A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599 (2005)—Folger call number: PR2907 .S47 2005 (Globe built in 1599)

Alan C. Dessen and Leslie Thomson, Dictionary of Stage Directions in English Drama, 1580-1642 (1999)—Folger call number: PR658 .S59 D47 1999 Copy 1 R.R.

Stage and Film

The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Stage, ed. Stanley Wells and Sarah Stanton (2002)—Folger call number: PR3091 .C36 2002 (Provides a history of Shakespeare in the theater from his own times to the modern era.)

The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Film, ed. Russell Jackson (2007)—Folger call number: PR3093 .C36 2007

Charles Shattuck, Shakespeare on the American Stage, vol. 1 From the Hallams to Edwin Booth; vol. 2 From Booth and Barrett to Sothern and Marlowe (1976; 1987)—Folger call number: PR3105 .S4 various copies

See also: British Film Institute website on Shakespeare

Library of Congress, List of Shakespeare on Film and Television