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Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature: Websites

Subject support from Library Services for staff and students in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature.

Evaluating web sources

Anyone can put information on the web, so how can you tell if it's reliable and accurate?

Ask yourself:

  • Who is the author?  Do they have qualifications/a reputation in the relevant area?
  • Is the web site affiliated with anorganisation?  If so, what is the mission of that organisation?
  • Has the information been properlyreferenced?  Are the references authoritative?
  • When was the site last updated?
  • Is there any reason for bias on this web site?
  • Has the website been well presented in an appropriately academic style?
  • Has anyone recommended this web site to you?
  • Does the information match what you have learned from other sources?

Using websites to find information in your field

Useful websites that are relevant to the study of Shakespeare & Renaissance Literature include:

ASIA (Asian Shakepseare Intercultural Archive)

A collaborative, multi-lingual online archive of performance materials providing resources for education and research in intercultural and Shakespeare performance.



AusStage provides an accessible online resource for researching live performance in Australia. Development is led by a consortium of universities, government agencies, industry organisations and collecting institutions with funding from the Australian Research Council and other sources. Australian companies stage some of the most ambitious and innovative live performances, projecting images of Australian culture to audiences here and overseas. AusStage records the significance of these artistic collaborations and stimulates new approaches to collaborative research.


BBC Shakespeare Archive Resource

The site contains hundreds of TV and radio programmes from the BBC’s Shakespeare collection, as well as more than a thousand photos from classic Shakespeare productions.


British History Online

Digital library containing some of the core printed primary and secondary sources for the medieval and modern history of the British Isles.


British Library Theatre Archive Project

This website accompanies a major project to reinvestigate British theatre history 1945-1968, from the perspectives of both the theatregoer and the practitioner. The Project Team includes staff from both the British Library and De Montfort University.


Designing Shakespeare

Designing Shakespeare is a vast resource of photographs, reviews, and information relating to significant Shakespeare productions 1960-2000. The site was developed to help students and scholars gain a greater understanding of the work of theatre designers working in Britain during the last forty years of the previous century. It was also designed to illustrate the vast range of possible interpretations of Shakespeare's work.

DEx: A Database of Dramatic Extracts

DEx is an online, searchable database of dramatic extracts found in seventeenth-century manuscripts. DEx is published by Iter: Gateway to the Middle Ages and Renaissance.


Digital Anthology of Early English Modern Drama (Folger Shakespeare Library) 

EMED includes full texts of a number of the plays in the original spelling as well as with some regularized forms. The textually encoded files are available, too. Whether you read the plays, discover new insights through data exploration, devise college and graduate curricula, or work toward scholarly editions, EMED widens our horizon to different plays and to new questions as we consider the drama of Shakespeare's time.


The Enfolded Hamlet

Produced by Bernice Kliman. Allows readers to read the Folio or 2nd Quarto texts of Hamlet separately, or as a conflated single text.


Folger Shakespeare Library

Home to the world’s largest and finest collection of Shakespeare materials and to major collections of other rare Renaissance books, manuscripts, and works of art. Website offers the facility to learn about Folger events and resources, both online and on location. Online texts, teaching tools and digital collections. A great resource. Link to the Hamnet catalogue.


Hamlet on the Ramparts

A public website designed and maintained by the MIT Shakespeare Project in collaboration with the Folger Shakespeare Library and other institutions. Aims to provide free access to an evolving collection of texts, images, and film relevant to Hamlet’s first encounter with the Ghost (Act 1, Scenes 4 and 5).


Henslowe-Alleyn Digitisation Project

Images of every page of the manuscripts relating to theatrical affairs in the Henslowe-Alleyn Papers at Dulwich College.


Internet Shakespeare Editions

Online editions of Shakespeare’s works with supplementary and related materials. Includes pages on the Life and Times and Performance as well as reliable links to other online sources:


John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments Online

Browse and compare the unabridged texts of the four editions of this massive work published in John Foxe’s lifetime (1563, 1570, 1576, 1583). Each edition changed significantly as Foxe sought to incorporate new material, answer his critics, and adjust its polemical force to the needs of the moment.



An online anthology of English Literature covering the Medieval to the Restoration period. Contains useful essays and articles on the literature of the period and pages of further study on individual authors.


National Theatre Archive

A virtual showcase for the history of the National Theatre, displaying images of the various media held by the Archive. Contains link to the archive catalogue and bibliography on the history of the theatre.


Open Source Shakespeare

Open Source Shakespeare attempts to be the best free web site containing Shakespeare's complete works. It is intended for scholars, thespians, and Shakespeare lovers of every kind. OSS includes the 1864 Globe Edition of the complete works, which was the definitive single-volume Shakespeare edition for over a half-century. It is also searchable.


Project Gutenburg

Over 40,000 free ebooks including historic texts.


Renaissance Electronic Texts

A series of old-spelling, SGML-encoded editions of early individual copies of English Renaissance books and manuscripts, and of plain transcriptions of such works, published on the World Wide Web as a free resource for students of the period.


Richard Brome Online

An online edition of the Collected Works of the Caroline dramatist, Richard Brome. The edition not only makes the texts accessible to scholars and theatre practitioners, but also begins to explore their theatricality visually, serving as inspiration to encourage more frequent staging of Brome's works.


Romeo and Juliet Prompt Books

This site includes two fully-searchable databases containing information from approximately 170 prompt-books for productions of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. These productions range from the seventeenth century to the 1980s.This data was assembled by Jill Levenson during the preparation of her Oxford Shakespeare edition of the play.


Royal Shakespeare Company

Explore a wide variety of information on current and past productions at the theatre.


RSC Performance Database

Data about plays, productions and the creative and performing artists who have been involved with the RSC and its predecessors in Stratford-upon-Avon from 1879 to the presentFacility to search for performances of a play, by venue or date, or for people or roles. From the resulting list you will be guided to the performance record which gives details of the production including the full cast list. Contains list of reviews up to 1993.


Shakespeare and his Critics

This site contains a mixture of historical and modern documents related to Shakespeare and Renaissance drama.


Shakespeare and the Players

An online exhibition and scholarly resource of nearly 1,000 postcards featuring many famous English and American actors who performed Shakespeare’s plays for late Victorian and Edwardian audiences. 


Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Online information regarding Shakespeare’s life, work and times. Includes link to the library and archive.


Shakespeare Illustrated

Explores nineteenth-century paintings, criticism and productions of Shakespeare's plays and their influences on one another.


Shakespeare in Europe

Includes translated versions of Shakespeare’s works and a number of critical essays. The site also hosts links to an impressive range of criticism from the 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.


Shakespeare in Quarto

British Library’s web site with 107 copies of the 21 plays by Shakespeare printed in quarto before the 1642 theatre closures. Facility for viewing texts side by side, details on the period and the history of the plays in print and performance.


Shakespeare on the Internet (

Comprehensive listing of Shakespeare related websites.


Shakespeare Quartos Archive

A digital collection of pre-1642 editions of William Shakespeare's plays. A cross-Atlantic collaboration has also produced an interactive interface for the detailed study of these geographically distant quartos, with full functionality for all thirty-two quarto copies of Hamlet held by participating institutions.


Shakespeare’s Globe Library, Research

& Discover Space

Information regarding the workings and productions of the Globe with everything from backstage interviews to academic research papers.


Shakespeare’s Words

The site integrates the full text of the plays and poems with the entire Glossary database, allowing you to search for any word or phrase in Shakespeare's works, and in particular to find all instances of all words that can pose a difficulty to the modern reader.



An online theatre resource covering selected work from the National Theatre, the Royal Court, and Northern Broadsides. Features interviews with actors and directors, footage of rehearsals and behind the scenes activity, clips from performances and resources for teachers.


Theatre Voice

Online resource for audio material about British Theatre. Top critics discuss the latest shows and talk to leading actors, writers, directors and designers about their work.



Touchstone was set up to identify and map significant UK Shakespeare collections. It aims to facilitate and encourage research in Shakespeare studies that will benefit both the academic and the wider community. Has useful listings of current productions of Shakespeare and other Renaissance drama and a database of Shakespeare productions from 1996-2008 called Traffic of the Stage.


Understanding Shakespeare

Brilliant resource connecting digital texts from the Folger Shakespeare Library with articles on JSTOR. Pick a play, click on a line, instantly see JSTOR articles that reference that line.


UK Theatre Collections database in Culture Grid:

The UK Theatre Collections database in Culture Grid contains descriptions of over 250 collections in Association for Performing Arts Collections member and other institutions.


University of Bristol Theatre Collections

Details of the great number of collections held at Bristol in addition to the Mander & Mitchenson Collection.


University of Warwick Centre for the Study of the Renaissance:

Teaching and learning tool for contextualising the period and for engaging with the playtexts. Resources on Thomas Kyd, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, John Webster and Thomas Middleton.


Virtual Manuscript Room

Renaissance Theatre Company prompt books, unpublished film scripts, letters of Mary Cowden Clarke and other treasures from the University’s Shakespeare collections.


Finding information on the internet

There is a huge range of information on the Internet, but you need to be vigilant about the quality of what you find. Using subject gateways and sites which are created by subject specialists will ensure that you find information that has been evaluated for its academic quality.

Wikipedia - good or bad?

Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia, written collaboratively by anyone who wishes to contribute. Many people are constantly editing Wikipedia, making thousands of changes per hour. For more information, see About Wikipedia.

Anyone with access to the internet can edit almost every page, and this is both the strength and the weakness of the site: 

  • Because there are so many people willing to freely give their time and expertise to Wikipedia, the content can be an excellent introduction to a topic, well-referenced, and mistakes are often corrected quickly. 
  • However, because edits can be made anonymously, we cannot know whether the author is an expert on the subject or whether they have a particular agenda to push.

Wikipedia is not considered to be a suitably authoritative source of information for academic study.

It is not a good idea to reference Wikipedia in your assignments. If you choose to use Wikipedia as a starting point for your topic, however, the article will introduce you to the key vocabulary for the topic which will be useful for further searching in and bibliographic databases.

For guidance on how to evaluate the quality of Wikipedia articles, see Evaluating Wikipedia article quality.