Shakespeare Research Guide

This guide is designed for Harvard students and faculty doing research on Shakespeare. Because of the vast number and range of Shakespeare studies, this guide is only an introduction to the field, a survey that is nowhere near exhaustive. The principle of selection was that "less is more": What are the essential readings someone needs to know about to begin research on a topic? It's usually not much more than a couple of classic studies and one or two recent entries in the discussion.

This guide includes reliable editions and key scholarship as well as useful databases, reference works, and research tools (Shakespeare studies is such a vast field that you need a research guide to the research guides). Most of the below items are specific to Shakespeare studies, but sometimes resources used for literary studies more generally are included if they frequently arise when researching Shakespeare. Efforts have been made to provide links, including links to full access for Harvard affiliates, whenever possible.


  • Complete Works
    • Gary Taylor, John Jowett, Terri Bourus, and Gabriel Egan (Eds.), The New Oxford Shakespeare (2016)
    • Stephen Greenblatt, Walter Cohen, Jean E. Howard, and Katharine Eisaman Maus (Eds.), The Norton Shakespeare (3rd ed., 2015)


  • Single Works
    • The Arden Shakespeare Series
    • The Pelican Shakespeare Series
    • The Norton Shakespeare Series
    • The Shakespeare in Performance Series





  • Michael Dobson and Stanley Wells, The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare (2001) [ Harvard Access ]
  • David Scott Kastan, A Companion to Shakespeare (1999)
  • Andrew Dickson, The Rough Guide to Shakespeare (2005; revised 2009)
  • Richard Dutton and Jean E. Howard, A Companion to Shakespeare’s Works (2003)
  • Samuel Crowl, Shakespeare and Film: A Brief Norton Guide (2008)
  • Arthur F. Kinney (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare (2012)
  • The Cambridge Companions
    • Margreta De Grazia and Stanley Wells (Eds.), The New Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare (2nd ed., 2011) [ Harvard Access ]
    • Claire McEachern (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Shakespearean Tragedy (2nd Ed., 2013) [ Harvard Access ]
    • Alexander Leggatt (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Shakespearean Comedy (2001) [ Harvard Access ]
    • Michael Hattaway (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare's History Plays (2002) [ Harvard Access ]
    • Catherine M. S. Alexander (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare's Last Plays (2009) [ Harvard Access ]
    • Patrick Cheney (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare's Poetry (2007) [ Harvard Access ]
    • Ton Hoenselaars (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and Contemporary Dramatists (2012) [ Harvard Access ]
    • Stanley Wells and Sarah Stanton (Eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Stage (2002) [Harvard Access ]
    • Russell Jackson (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare on Film (2nd ed., 2007) [ Harvard Access ]
    • Robert Shaughnessy (Ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare and Popular Culture (2007) [ Harvard Access ]

Annotated Bibliographies

  • David Bevington, "William Shakespeare," in Oxford Bibliographies: Renaissance and Reformation [ Harvard Access ]
  • Andrew Hadfield and Amy Kenny, "William Shakespeare," in Oxford Bibliographies: British and Irish Literature [ Harvard Access ]
  • Larry S. Champion, The Essential Shakespeare: An Annotated Bibliography of Major Modern Studies (1986; 2nd ed., 1993)
  • The Garland Shakespeare Bibliographies
  • David Bevington, "English Renaissance Drama," in Oxford Bibliographies: Renaissance and Reformation [ Harvard Access ]



Life and Times

  • Biography
    • S. Schoenbaum, William Shakespeare: A Compact Documentary Life (1977; revised 1987)
    • Katherine Duncan-Jones, Ungentle Shakespeare: Scenes from his Life (2001)
    • Stephen Greenblatt, Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare (2004)
    • James Shapiro, 1599:A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare (2005)
    • David Bevington, Shakespeare and Biography (2010)
  • History
    • E.M.W. Tillyard, The Elizabethan World-Picture (1943)
    • J. D. Cox and D. S. Kastan, A New History of Early English Drama (1997)
    • John Morrill (Ed.), The Oxford Illustrated History of Tudor & Stuart Britain (1996)
    • John Cannon (Ed.), The Oxford Companion to British History (2009)


  • Geoffrey Bullough, Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare (1957–73)
  • Kenneth Muir, The Sources of Shakespeare’s Plays (1977)
  • Stuart Gillespie (Ed.), Shakespeare’s Books: A Dictionary of Shakespeare's Sources (2001)

Language and Style

  • Sister Miriam Joseph, Shakespeare’s Use of the Arts of Language (1947)
  • M. M. Mahood, Shakespeare’s Wordplay (1957)
  • Richard A. Lanham, The Motives of Eloquence: Literary Rhetoric in the Renaissance (1976)
  • Russ McDonald, Shakespeare and the Arts of Language (2001)
  • David Crystal, Think on my Words: Exploring Shakespeare's Language (2008)
  • Peter Mack, Reading and Rhetoric in Montaigne and Shakespeare (2010)


  • Lawrence Danson, Shakespeare’s Dramatic Genres (2000)
  • Anthony R. Guneratne (Ed.), Shakespeare and Genre: From Early Modern Inheritances to Postmodern Legacies (2011)
  • Comedies
    • C. L. Barber, Shakespeare’s Festive Comedy (1959, revised 1972)
    • Northrop Frye, A Natural Perspective: The Development of Shakespearean Comedy and Romance (1965)
    • Franquois Laroque, Shakespeare’s Festive World: Elizabethan Seasonal Entertainment and the Professional Stage (1993)
  • Tragedies
    • A. C. Bradley, Shakespearian Tragedy (1904)
    • Stanley Cavell, Disowning Knowledge in Seven Plays of Shakespeare (1987)
    • Paul Kottman, Disinheriting the Globe: Tragic Conditions in Shakespeare (2009)
  • Histories
    • E. M. W. Tillyard, Shakespeare’s History Plays (1944)
    • Lily B. Campbell, Shakespeare’s Histories (1947)
    • Peter Saccio, Shakespeare’s English Kings (1977, revised 2000)
    • Phyllis Rackin, Stages of History: Shakespeare’s English Chronicles (1990)
  • Romances/Tragicomedies
    • F.S. Boas, “The Problem Plays,” in Shakespeare and His Predecessors (1896)
    • Russ McDonald, Shakespeare’s Late Style (2006)
  • Poems
    • Joel Fineman, Shakespeare’s Perjured Eye: The Invention of Poetic Subjectivity in the Sonnets (1986)
    • Helen Vendler, The Art of Shakespeare’s Sonnets (1997)
    • Stephen Orgel and Sean Keilen (Eds.), Shakespeare’s Poems (1999)

Textual Issues

  • Textual Editing
    • Margreta de Grazia, Shakespeare Verbatim: The Reproduction of Authenticity and the 1790 Apparatus (1991)
    • Leah Marcus, Unediting the Renaissance (1996)
    • Sonia Massai, Shakespeare and the Rise of the Editor (2007)

  • Printing
    • David Scott Kastan, Shakespeare and the Book (2001)
    • Lucas Erne, Shakespeare and the Book Trade (2013)
  • The Canon
    • Ron Rosenbaum, The Shakespeare Wars: Clashing Scholars, Public Fiascoes, Palace Coups (2006)
    •  Hugh Craig and Arthur F. Kinney (Eds.), Shakespeare, Computers, and the Mystery of Authorship (2012)
  • The Authorship Question
    • Jonathan Hope, The Authorship of Shakespeare’s Plays (1994)
    • Brian Vickers, Shakespeare, Co-Author (2002)
    • James Shapiro, Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? (2011)
    • The Shakespeare Authorship Page

The Critical Tradition

  • Brian Vickers, Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage (1974–81)
  • Jonathan Bate, The Romantics on Shakespeare (1992)
  • Ann Thompson and Sasha Roberts, Women Reading Shakespeare, 1660-1900 (1997)
  • Michael Dobson, The Making of the National Poet (1992)
  • Michael Taylor (Ed.), Shakespeare Criticism in the Twentieth Century (2001)
  • John Gross, After Shakespeare (2003)

Shakespeare and ...

  • Shakespeare and English Literature
    • David Scott Kastan, Shakespeare and the Book (2001)
    • Lukas Erne, Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist (2003)
  • Shakespeare and Drama
    • Anne Righter, Shakespeare and the Idea of the Play (1962)
  • Shakespeare and Literary Theory
    • Patricia Parker and Geoffrey Hartman (eds.), Shakespeare and the Question of Theory (1985)
    • Alternative Shakespeares (3 vols.: 1985, 1996, and 2007)
    • Jonathan Gil Harris, Shakespeare and Literary Theory (2010)
  • Shakespeare and the Classics
    • Jonathan Bate, Shakespeare and Ovid (1994)
    • Heather James, Shakespeare’s Troy: Drama, Politics, and the Translation of Empire (1997)
    • Charles Martindale and A. B. Taylor (Eds.), Shakespeare and the Classics (2004)
  • Shakespeare and Philosophy
    • Stanley Cavell, Disowning Knowledge in Seven Plays of Shakespeare (1987)
    • Arthur F. Kinney, Shakespeare and Cognition: Aristotle’s Legacy and Shakespearean Drama (2006)
    • A. D. Nuttall, Shakespeare the Thinker (2007)
    • Jennifer Bates and Richard Wilson (Eds), Shakespeare and Continental Philosophy (2014)
  • Shakespeare and Politics
    • Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield (Eds.), Political Shakespeare: Essays in Cultural Materialism (1994)
    • Louis Montrose, The Purpose of Playing: Shakespeare and the Cultural Politics of the Elizabethan Theatre (1996)
    • Andrew Hadfield, Shakespeare and Republicanism (2005)
  • Shakespeare and Law
    • Bradin Cormack, Martha C. Nussbaum, Richard Strier (Eds.), Shakespeare and the Law: A Conversation among Disciplines and Professions (2013)
    • Andrew Zurcher, Shakespeare and Law (2014)
  • Shakespeare and Religion
    • Jonathan Dollimore, Radical Tragedy: Religion, Ideology, and Power in the Drama of Shakespeare and His Contemporaries (1984)
    • Allison Shell, Shakespeare and Religion (2010)
  • Shakespeare and Psychology
    • Ernest Jones, Hamlet and Oedipus (1949)
    • Norman Holland, Psychoanalysis in Shakespeare (1966)
    • Julia Reinhard Lupton and Kenneth Reinhard, After Oedipus: Shakespeare in Psychoanalysis (1992)
    • Harold Bloom, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human (1998)
  • Shakespeare and Race
    • James Shapiro, Shakespeare and the Jews (1996)
    • Peter Hulme and William H. Sherman, ‘The Tempest’ and its Travels (2000)
    • Ania Loomba, Shakespeare, Race and Colonialism (2002)
  • Shakespeare and Gender
    • Juliet Dusinberre, Shakespeare and the Nature of Women (1975)
    • Patricia Parker, Literary Fat Ladies: Rhetoric, Gender, Property (1987)
    • Janet Adelman, Suffocating Mothers: Fantasies of Maternal Origin in Shakespeare’s Plays, Hamlet to the Tempest (1992)
    • Stephen Orgel, Impersonations: The Performance of Gender in Shakespeare’s England (1996)
    • Bruce Smith, Shakespeare and Masculinity (2000)
  • Shakespeare and Sexuality
    • Jonathan Goldberg, Queering the Renaissance (1994)
    • Bruce R. Smith, Homosexual Desire in Shakespeare’s England: A Cultural Poetics (1994)
    • Madhavi Menon (Ed.), Shakesqueer: A Queer Companion to the Complete Works of Shakespeare (2001)
  • Shakespeare and the Arts
    • W. Moelwyn Merchant, Shakespeare and the Artist (1959)
    • Jane Martineau (Ed.), Shakespeare in Art (2003)
    • Tarnya Cooper, Searching for Shakespeare (2006)
  • Shakespeare and Music
    • David Lindley, Shakespeare and Music (2006)
    • Julie Sanders, Shakespeare and Music: Afterlives and Borrowings (2007)
  • Shakespeare and Dance
    • Alan Brissenden, Shakespeare and the Dance (1981)
  • Shakespeare and Modernity
    • Jan Kott, Shakespeare Our Contemporary (1964)
    • Richard Halpern, Shakespeare Among the Moderns (1997)
    • Marjorie Garber, Shakespeare and Modern Culture (2008)


  • Early Modern Performance
    • E. K. Chambers, The Elizabethan Stage (1923)
    • Andrew Gurr, The Shakespearean Stage, 1574–1642 (Fourth Edition, 2009)
    • Andrew Gurr, Playgoing in Shakespeare’s London (Third Edition, 2004)
  • Modern Performance
    • J. R. Mulryne, ‎Margaret Shewring, ‎and Andrew Gurr (Eds.), Shakespeare's Globe Rebuilt (1997)
    • Jonathan Bate and Russell Jackson (eds.), The Oxford Illustrated History of Shakespeare on Stage (revised 2001)
    • The Actors on Shakespeare Series
  • Film and Television Performance
    • Lynda E. Boose and Richard Burt, Shakespeare, The Movie: Popularizing the Plays on Film, TV and Video (1997)
    • Kenneth S. Rothwell, A History of Shakespeare on Screen (1999, revised 2004)
    • Mark Thornton Burnett and Ramona Wray, Screening Shakespeare in the Twenty-First Century (2006)


  • Barbara Hodgdon, The Shakespeare Trade: Performances and Appropriations (1998)
  • Ton Hoenselaars (Ed.), Shakespeare and the Language of Translation (2004)

Internet Resources