Shakespeare Guide

Reference Sources

When researching a new topic, it is often necessary to get an overview, explanations of unfamiliar terms, or brief factual information. The print and electronic resources listed below include selected reference materials (dictionaries, encyclopaedias, handbooks, guides, and standards) that are relevant to the study of the works of William Shakespeare. To find additional reference materials, check UNB WorldCat or our Encyclopedias, etc database.

Key Resources

  • Blackwell Reference Online
    WARNING: This resource loads slowly and may need a page reload. Blackwell Reference Online "is a vast new online library giving instant access to the most authoritative and up-to-date scholarship across the humanities and social sciences. With more than 350 reference volumes to be published in Blackwell Reference Online by the end of 2008, it is the largest academic reference collection available online and includes the critically-acclaimed Blackwell Companions and Handbooks, major reference works such as the Blackwell Encyclopedia of Management and the Companion to Syntax, and a whole host of other valuable reference materials such as dictionaries, encyclopedias and concise companions."
    Unlimited simultaneous users.
  • Critical companion to William Shakespeare [HIL-REF PR2892 .B69 2005 vols. 1-2]

    In addition to facts about Shakespeare's life and works, Boyce includes in his encyclopedia a brief biography of Shakespeare, scene- by-scene synopses, critical commentary on every play, analyses of characters and biographical information on figures in Shakespeare's life. Boyce, a freelance writer specializing in Elizabethan England, notes that this reference is not intended as scholarship, but he incorporates entries on important scholars, documents, and literary and theatrical terms. This revised edition includes a discussion of Edward III, a new addition to the canon, and recent scholarship about Shakespeare's possible Catholicism and his probable collaboration with other playwrights. Annotation #169;2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com) Distributed by Syndetic Solutions, Inc.

  • Greenwood Companion to Shakespeare [HIL-REF PR2976 .G739 2005 vols. 1-4]

    To help students approach Shakespeare's works without "shuddering fear," this comprehensive companion provides a grounding in the author's life and work. The first volume contains essays about Shakespeare's personal history and his times, including the state of the theater and the English language in his day. The second half of volume one is dedicated to Shakespeare's history plays. Volumes two, three, and four discuss the comedies, tragedies, and comedies, respectively. Volume four also covers Shakespeare's sonnets and the narrative poems. The discussions of the plays include scene-by-scene plot summaries, publication history, sources, structure, plotting, characters and themes. The essays also explicate key passages and consider critical discourse about the works. An annotated bibliography accompanies each essay; an annotated list of relevant websites and a selected bibliography are appended to volume four. Annotation #169;2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com) Distributed by Syndetic Solutions, Inc.

  • Oxford English Dictionary (OED Online)
    "This unique and powerful resource offers unprecedented access to the definitive record of the meaning, history and evolution of more than 600,000 words over the last 1,500 years." A complete text of the 2nd. ed. of the Oxford English dictionary with quarterly updates, including revisions not available in any other form.
    5 simultaneous users.
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB)
    Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is an illustrated/fulltext reference tool providing 55,000 specially-written signed biographies of the men and women who shaped all aspects of the British past from the earliest times to the end of the year 2000. It is the product of research instituted at the University of Oxford and funded by the British Academy and by Oxford University Press. It is the achievement of 10,000 contributors and advisers staff in Oxford. The Oxford DNB aims to provide full, accurate, concise, and readable articles on noteworthy people in all walks of life. No living person is included: the Dictionary's articles are confined to people who died before 31 December 2000.
    3 simultaneous users.

Additional Resources

  • Cambridge history of British theatre. Vol. 1, Origins to 1660
    The first of three volumes looking at the turbulent public life of performance in Britain. Volume One covers pre-Elizabethan theatre.
    Unlimited simultaneous users
  • Dictionary of Shakespeare, A [HIL-REF PR2892 .W43 2005]

    This concise, illustrated dictionary of Shakespeariana, compiled by one of the best-known authorities on his works, contains alphabetically arranged entries guiding the reader to a wealth of information on all aspects of Shakespeare in his own time and on his impact and influence on later ages. Stanley Wells provides clear entries on: Shakespeare's life and times, the sources and early publication of his works, their performance history on stage and screen, actors such as Edmund Kean and Kenneth Branagh, and writers especially associated with them, operas and other musical works deriving from them, theaters, editions, international Shakespeare organizations--in short, on all aspects of Shakespearean interest. The volume is complemented by a series of striking pronouncements about Shakespeare over the ages from Jane Austen to Bernard Levin, tables providing interesting facts about the plays, famous documents bearing Shakespeare's signature, and a useful guide to further reading. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions, Inc.

  • Shakespeare name dictionary, the
    see also [HIL-REF PR2892 .D33 1995]
    The authors cover everything: characters (Touchstone, the clown in "As You Like It"), places (Tours, the French city mentioned in "Henry VI"), animals (Tray, one of King Lear's three dogs), buildings (the Tower of London), officials (Roman Tribunes), rivers (the Trent), nationals ("Transylvanian"), nicknames (Monsieur Traveller, applied to Jaques in "As You Like It"), astrological groupings (Trigon, an astrological group of three signs), and much more. "The Shakespeare Name Dictionary" identifies them all in full, readable entries. The authors' coverage includes such information as the historical errors in Shakespeare's plays, as well as variant interpretations of names. Line references in the plays are keyed to the Oxford Shakespeare. With fuller coverage than anything currently available, "The Shakespeare Name" "Dictionary"-available in paperback for the first time--is the ultimate guide to the plays. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions, Inc.
    CHOICE Review

    Davis and Frankforter list "every name, proper adjective, official title, literary and musical title and place

  • Longman guide to Shakespeare's characters : a who's who of Shakespeare [HIL-REF PR2989 .M18 1985]
  • Shakespeare's Sexual Language: A Glossary

    Shakespeare's use of sexual language, imagery and erotic themes is extensive, varied, and although this is necessarily hard to establish, probably innovative at times. This glossary provides a first-hand guide to Shakespeare's sexual language, some of which is notoriously difficult to unravel and whose roots go back into earlier literature.

  • Which Shakespeare? : a user's guide to editions [HIL-REF PR3071 .T48 1991]

    A concise survey of the competing editions of Shakespeare, providing readers and potential buyers with the basic information they need to choose the edition most appropriate to their requirements. It covers both editions of the complete works and editions of individual plays.

  • Hutchinson Shakespeare dictionary : an A-Z guide to Shakespeare's plays, characters, and contemporaries [HIL-REF PR2892 .H87 1986]
  • Shakespeare on screen : an international filmography and videography [HIL-REF PR3093 .R68 1990]
  • Shakespeare on film [HIL-REF PR3093 .M6]
  • Companion to Shakespeare's sonnets, A
    This title is part of the Blackwell Reference Online e-book collection.
    Unlimited simultaneous users
  • Concise companion to Shakespeare on screen, A
    This title is part of the Blackwell Reference Online e-book collection.
    Unlimited simultaneous users
  • Oxford Reference
    Multi-part database of the online versions of Oxford University Press texts. Each topical division contains the searchable version of the latest edition of published dictionaries and encyclopedias. Additionally, information about Oxford University Press is provided. Online texts will be updated after new editions of the print monographs are published. Covers the humanities and social sciences.
    5 simultaneous users.

Find Articles

When searching for journal articles, an indexing and abstracting database or print index is usually the best place to begin. Below are some recommended databases for research in Shakespeare studies. For other databases, check Article Databases on the library website.

Key Resources

  • World Shakespeare Bibliography Online
    The World Shakespeare Bibliography Online 'provides annotated entries for all important books, articles, book reviews, dissertations, theatrical productions, reviews of productions, audiovisual materials, electronic media, and other scholarly and popular materials related to Shakespeare and published or produced between 1964 and 2005.' (Updated regularly, The WSB Online will eventually contain the complete contents of the print World Shakespeare Bibliography (1950 - 2005), which it replaces).
    Unlimited simultaneous users.
  • Literature Online
    Literature Online offers full text access to rare and inacessible works, up-to-date, reference resources, in addition to the full text of poetry, drama, and prose fiction from the seventh century to the present day. Materials are included from almost every period and genre of English literature as well as many works by 20th century authors. Contemporary criticism is available through the Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature (ABELL).
    Unlimited simultaneous users.
  • Literature Criticism Online
    Provides Online access to the content of the following reference works on literature: Twentieth-century literary criticism, Nineteenth-century literature criticism, Literature criticism 1400-1800, Shakespeare criticism, Contemporary literary criticism, and Children's literature review.
    Unlimited simultaneous users.
  • Iter - Gateway to the Middle Ages and Renaissance
    A bibliography covering the period 400-1700. Citations are drawn from journals, books, conference proceedings, festschriften, encyclopedias and exhibition catalogues.
    Unlimited simultaneous users.

Additional Resources

  • Modern Language Association (MLA) International Bibliography (EBSCOhost)
    "MLA International Bibliography offers a detailed bibliography of journal articles, books and dissertations. Produced by the Modern Language Association (MLA), the electronic version of the bibliography dates back to the 1920s and contains millions of citations from journals & series, as well as book publishers. The indexed materials coverage is international, and includes titles and full-text links from J-STOR and Project Muse. This resource also contains hundreds of thousands of subject names and terms."
    Unlimited simultaneous users.
  • Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature (ABELL)
    Based on the annual print publication by the Modern Humanities Research Association, the Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature provides bibliographic records for monographs, journal articles, doctoral dissertations and book reviews published since 1920, with selected materials included from 1892 - 1919. Part of the Literature Online collections.
    4 simultaneous users.
  • JSTOR Archival Collection
    JSTOR provides access to back issues of a variety of scholarly journals. UNB Libraries currently subscribes to the Arts & Sciences (I through X) collections, along with the Life Sciences and Ireland collections.
    Unlimited simultaneous users.
  • Project Muse
    "Project MUSE covers the fields of literature and criticism, history, the visual and performing arts, cultural studies, education, political science, gender studies, and many others." UNB subscribes to almost 400 eJournals, and provides access to select Open Access eBooks.
    Unlimited simultaneous users.
  • Historical Abstracts (EBSCO)
    "Historical Abstracts is an exceptional resource that covers the history of the world (excluding the United States and Canada) from 1450 to the present, including world history, military history, women's history, history of education, and more ... Provides indexing of more than 1,700 academic historical journals in over 40 languages back to 1955."--Database information page.
    Unlimited simultaneous users.
  • Oxford University Press Journals
    Oxford Journals is a division of Oxford University Press, which is a department of Oxford University. We publish well over 230 academic and research journals covering a broad range of subject areas, two-thirds of which are published in collaboration with learned societies and other international organizations.
    Unlimited simultaneous users.
  • Cambridge Journals Online (Cambridge Core)
    Cambridge Journals Online (part of Cambridge Core) provides full text for journals in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities.
    Unlimited simultaneous users.

You may also find some of the following journals useful for Shakespeare studies:

Find Books

To search for books at UNB Libraries, first use the library's online catalogue, UNB WorldCat. UNB WorldCat (searchable below) searches for books and other materials held at UNB Libraries and other institutions worldwide. 

Search UNB WorldCat:     

Advanced Search | Locations Guide | Other Catalogues | Help/FAQ

Early Printed Editions

Early printed editions of many of Shakespeare's works can also be accessed using Early English Books Online (EEBO). EEBO is a unique resource that provides online access to works printed in Britain, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales from 1473-1700. 

Key Resources

  • Early English Books Online (EEBO)
    "Early English Books Online (EEBO) will contain over 125,000 titles listed in Pollard & Redgrave's Short-Title Catalogue (1475-1640), Wing's Short-Title Catalogue (1641-1700), and the Thomason Tracts (1640-1661)..." Allows searching Eighteenth Century Collections Online as an option.
    Unlimited simultaneous users.

Bibliographies

Bibliographies list publications that have been written about a particular subject, including books, journals, government publications, etc. Annotated bibliographies provide concise summaries of what has been published in a given area.

  • The essential Shakespeare: an annotated bibliography of major modern studies (2nd ed.)
    HIL-REF PR2894 .C476 1993
  • Shakespeare and feminist criticism: an annotated bibliography and commentary
    HIL-REF PR2965 .K76 1991
  • The major Shakespearean tragedies; a critical bibliography
    HIL-REF ZPR2976 .Q52
  • Shakespeare, a bibliographical guide
    HIL-REF PR2894 .S394 1990

    Tip: Annotated bibliographies are also available for many of Shakespeare's plays. Try searching UNB WorldCat for the title of the play and the word "bibliography," e.g. "macbeth bibliography" or "othello bibliography."

    Shakespeare on Film

    You may wish to watch film versions of Shakespeare's plays. Titles that interest you may be referenced in the journal articles and books that you read as part of your research, or you may search for films and articles about films using the research tools listed in the "Key Resources" section of this page.

    UNB Libraries' Film Collection holds film versions of many of Shakespeare's works. To see if UNB Libraries holds a film version of a play, you can use UNB WorldCat or Theatre in Video (see the list of "Key Resources" below).

    Searching UNB WorldCat: UNB WorldCat offers the ability to limit your search by "Format". Try a search for the play's title. On your search results screen, you should see an option to limit your results to a particular format, which may include Video, DVD, VHS, or even "eVideos". 

    Books about Shakespeare and film:

    This is only a small selection of UNB Libraries' books about Shakespeare and film that you may find useful. Try searching UNB WorldCat for "shakespeare" and "film" or "filmography" to view a wider selection.

    • Shakespeare and film : a Norton guide
      HIL-STACKS PR3093 .C747 2008
    • Shakespeare films in the making : vision, production and reception
      HIL-STACKS PR3093 .J33 2007
    • 100 Shakespeare films
      HIL-STACKS PR3093 .R66 2007

    Key Resources

    • Theatre in Video
      Contains performances of the world's leading plays and film documentaries on the subject of theater in streaming video. Some plays presented in multiple productions exemplifying various interpretations of the text, and technical and cultural differences among the presentations. Stage work of directors and actors are cross-searchable and available for side-by-side comparison. Interviews with directors, designers, writers, and actors, along with excerpts of live performances, provide illustration of the development of texts and the productions.
      Unlimited simultaneous users.
    • Films on Demand
      Note: UNB Libraries subscribes to the Master Academic Collection and FMG Archival Films & Newsreels Collection. Not all films listed are viewable. Videos are in Flash format. Includes 5,500+ educational titles and over 60,000 video segments licensed for use in Canada, covering a broad range of subjects including business, social sciences, education, health and medicine, humanities, sciences, and guidance, and including archival films and newsreels.
      Unlimited simultaneous users.
    • World Shakespeare Bibliography Online
      The World Shakespeare Bibliography Online 'provides annotated entries for all important books, articles, book reviews, dissertations, theatrical productions, reviews of productions, audiovisual materials, electronic media, and other scholarly and popular materials related to Shakespeare and published or produced between 1964 and 2005.' (Updated regularly, The WSB Online will eventually contain the complete contents of the print World Shakespeare Bibliography (1950 - 2005), which it replaces).
      Unlimited simultaneous users.
    • Literature Online
      Literature Online offers full text access to rare and inacessible works, up-to-date, reference resources, in addition to the full text of poetry, drama, and prose fiction from the seventh century to the present day. Materials are included from almost every period and genre of English literature as well as many works by 20th century authors. Contemporary criticism is available through the Annual Bibliography of English Language and Literature (ABELL).
      Unlimited simultaneous users.

    Citing Your Sources

    Accurate, properly formatted footnotes, reading lists, and bibliographies are hallmarks of good academic research. Through citing, you acknowledge the source of any ideas you mention in your writing, document your research, and provide the information your readers need to track down your sources.

    Numerous citation styles exist, and each specifies what elements are required (title, author, journal name, etc.) and how the citation should be formatted. The standard citation style for English Literature is MLA, but your instructor may require or recommend that you use another. Consult your course syllabus or check with your instructor to be sure of using the correct citation style for your assignment.

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    Last modified on August 4, 2017 12:01