In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section William Shakespeare

  • Introduction
  • Reference Works
  • Bibliographies
  • Journals
  • Texts and Textual Studies
  • Shakespeare’s Life
  • Development as a Theater Artist
  • Shakespeare’s Ideas: Philosophy, Meaning, Ideology
  • Shakespeare on Political, Cultural, and Economic Issues
  • Feminist and Gender Issues
  • Psychoanalytic Studies
  • Source Studies
  • Style and Language
  • Shakespeare and his Contemporaries in the Theater
  • Reputation and Afterlife

Renaissance and Reformation William Shakespeare
David Bevington
  • LAST REVIEWED: 10 May 2010
  • LAST MODIFIED: 10 May 2010
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0052


Widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and perhaps in the world, Shakespeare holds enduring interest for scholars and general readers for his insight into human passions, his reflections on political greatness and failure, and his perceptions of the varieties of social, domestic, and sexual relationships and resolutions; as such, Shakespeare has been the subject of intense and varied critical study. This highly selective entry attempts to organize those studies into meaningful categories of interest: biography, ideas, cultural practices, gender, politics, religion, style and language, performance history, and more.

Reference Works

Spevack 1973 is an invaluable concordance, linked to the Riverside Shakespeare series, in which one can identify every word in all of Shakespeare. Williams 1994 is a dictionary of sexual language in Shakespeare. Abbott 2003 surveys Shakespeare’s use of grammar. Schmidt 1980 is a lexicon and quotation dictionary available online as part of the Perseus Digital Library. Onions 1986 glosses every significant term in Shakespeare, indicating how usage and definition differ from modern usages where that is the case. Chambers 1988 is a storehouse of information about Shakespeare. The websites Internet Shakespeare Editions, Mr. William Shakespeare and the Internet, and The Shakespeare Collection are portals to online Shakespeare resources, texts, documents, and other aids.

  • Abbott, E. A. A Shakespearian Grammar: An Attempt to Illustrate Some of the Differences between Elizabethan and Modern English. Mineola, NY: Dover, 2003.

    Arranged by parts of speech: adjectives used as adverbs, articles, prepositions, personal and relative pronouns, auxiliary verbs, and so on, with illustrations for each distinctive usage. More recent editions are from 1884, 1886, 1891, 1901, and 1919. Most of the older editions, including the first edition, 1869 as well as the 1901 edition, are available online.

  • Chambers, E. K. William Shakespeare: A Study of Facts and Problems. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon, 1988.

    A compendium of information about Shakespeare’s life and professional career in the theater. Originally published in 1930.

  • Gray, Terry A., ed. Mr. William Shakespeare and the Internet.

    Filtered guide to scholarly Shakespeare Internet resources, plus a useful timeline and primary source documents related to Shakespeare’s life.

  • Internet Shakespeare Editions.

    Website maintained by Victoria University and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada that provides, among other resources, facsimile texts of original editions of Shakespeare’s works as well as modern editions.

  • Onions, C. T. A Shakespeare Glossary. Edited by Robert D. Eagleson. Oxford: Clarendon, 1986.

    Terms arranged alphabetically and defined in multiple contexts. Originally published in 1911 and 1919.

  • Schmidt, Alexander. Shakespeare-Lexicon: A Complete Dictionary of All the English Words, Phrases, and Constructions in the Works of the Poet. 3rd ed. New York: Arno, 1980.

    First edition published in 1872; third edition (revised and enlarged) originally published in 1902 (Berlin: Georg Reimer). Available online at the Perseus Digital Library maintained by Tufts University.

  • Shakespeare Collection.

    Central source from Gale Cengage Learning for reference materials, full-text editions, reprints of critical essays, and primary sources.

  • Spevack, Marvin. The Harvard Concordance to Shakespeare. Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 1973.

    A thorough concordance of Shakespeare’s words, keyed to the Riverside Shakespeare series.

  • Williams, Gordon. A Dictionary of Sexual Language and Imagery in Shakespearean and Stuart Literature. 3 vols. London and Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Athlone, 1994.

    A judicious and comprehensive glossary of sexual terms, in which Shakespeare’s usages are compared with those of his later contemporaries.

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.