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Hope Library Guides

Shakespeare: Reference Sources

Shakespeare Resources @ Van Wylen Library


REFERENCE SOURCES — encyclopedias, subject-specific databases, etc.

  • great for topic overviews, biographical info (basically, stuff to get you started)

Access the "Online Reference Shelf" from the library homepage:

(Best bets: CREDO and Gale Virtual Reference Library)

Search Tip: think “headings” not long multifaceted topics (i.e., “Shakespeare,” “King Lear,” “Elizabethan,” etc.

Suggested ONLINE reference books include:

Collection of essays by Shakespeare scholars. Each includes an introduction; a plot synopsis; a character list; a discussion of the work's principal themes; information about the style and literary devices used; a conversation about the work's historical context; and a critical overview.

Provides an overview of the life of William Shakespeare and the culture and society of Shakespeare's England.

Reviews current knowledge of the character and operation of theatres in Shakespeare's time, with an explanation of their origins. Coverage includes the practices of Elizabethan actors and script writers: methods of characterization; gesture, blocking and choreography, including music, dance and fighting; actors' rhetorical interaction with audiences; and use of costumes, stage props, and make-up.

A comprehensive dictionary that covers the plays, poems, characters and background to Shakespeare's works. The dictionary also includes terms used in the theatre and stagecraft, as well as historical references and details on the Elizabethan historical and social period.

Provides a critical overview and succinct explication of Shakespeare's sonnets and poems.


Suggested PRINT reference books include:

From the conjectured identity of the Dark Lady of the Sonnets to misprints in the First Folio, from Shakespeare's favorite figures of speech to the staging of Othello in South Africa, The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare offers the most comprehensive coverage available on all aspects of Shakespeare's life and works.

This four-volume set introduces the genres and major works that constitute Shakespeare's formidable canon. Whether readers are beginning with one of the tragedies, a history play, a comedy, or the poems, they will find a full volume devoted to each genre, with thorough analysis of the major works within. The set contains 77 essays, all written by experts, thus offering a guide to the perplexed. Each analytical essay is written with expertise and insight to guide the reader through the poem or play and to foster the full appreciation of both the content and context of the work.

This three-volume set comprises a reference covering not only the plays and the life of Shakespeare, but also his world and his continuing influence on modern culture. Arranged alphabetically, it presents the plays and provides details on poetry, government, music and theatre, prominent historical figures, critical commentaries, court life, gender, clothing, set design, characters in the plays, and cultural influences on Shakespeare.

[PRINT reference books available on the library main floor]