Shakespeare Resources

To kick off Trinity Term, we’ve put together a rundown of the different types of resources about and by Shakespeare which you can find at the EFL, either in the library or online.

Because there are so many Shakespeare resources to choose from, this selection is far from comprehensive. Instead, it’s intended to give you an idea of the types of resource you could look for – from primary texts and critical material to performances and films.

If you’d like to find out more about the library’s Shakespeare resources, the Shakespeare LibGuide would be a good place to start. There are tabs covering the resources we’ll talk about in this blog post, like eTexts and eBooks, as well as resources we don’t have space to cover here like journals, newspapers and ephemera.

While this post will give a few examples of specific titles you can find online or in the library, it’s not a reading list. But if that’s what you’re after, help is at hand! The English Faculty have put together an ORLO list of titles intended as an entry point into different ways of approaching and thinking about Shakespeare and his works.

An engraving of Shakespeare, coloured pink. There are two quotes on his collar: on the left, "You must translate; Tis fit we understand them."; and on the right, "Bless thee Bottome, bless thee; thou art translated."

©️ Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford 2023


Finally, if you’re interested in discovering more about Shakespeare at the wider Bodleian, head over to the Weston Library to see the Thou Art Translated display. The display celebrates 400 years since the publication of the First Folio and is open until Sunday 14 May.


Primary Texts

Where better to start this list of Shakespeare resources than with the plays themselves? There are a few different options available if you’re looking for texts of the plays, including digital and physical versions. Keep reading to find out more about some of these options, or for a fuller list have a look at the eTexts tab of the LibGuide.

Arden Shakespeare (via Drama Online)

Cover images, left to right: Macbeth edited by S. Clark and P. Mason; Measure for Measure edited by A.R. Braunmuller and R.N. Watson; and Othello (revised edition) edited by E.A.J. Honigmann

Examples of Arden Shakespeare titles available via Drama Online

Drama Online provides access to the searchable full-text of approximately 1,500 plays, forming a collection of the most studied, performed and critically acclaimed plays from Aeschylus to the present day. Those texts include the Arden Shakespeare series, offering annotated, scholarly editions of Shakespeare’s plays with modernised texts and comprehensive commentary notes.

Use the search function from the Drama Online homepage to find a specific text, or search for Arden Shakespeare Third Series to browse what’s on offer. Many texts in the Arden series are also available as physical books in the library – you can search for them by title on SOLO.

Oxford Scholarly Editions

Oxford Scholarly Editions makes Shakespeare’s work available in both original- and modern-spelling editions. It includes all of Shakespeare’s plays as well as his sonnets, in addition to critical material. The texts are all available online, and you can browse a list of available titles on the Oxford Scholarly Editions website. You can also find physical copies in the library; search for them by title on SOLO.

The Bodleian First Folio

Webpage capture of The Bodleian First Folio:

Page-turn view of The Bodleian First Folio

Diplomatic editions of the plays of the Bodleian First Folio (Bodleian Arch. G c.7) are available online. There are different ways to view the digital edition, depending on what you need and what you prefer.

You can view an image of each page with the digital text alongside, look at just the page images using the page-turner, or view the XML version of the text. There are multiple ways to navigate the text too, including by part, play, act, scene, and signature. And if you’d prefer to view it offline, you can download images, digital text, and XML.

If you’d like to see a physical copy of the First Folio, head over to the Weston to catch the Thou Art Translated display, which runs until Sunday 14 May.

Critical material

In addition to the plays themselves, there’s a broad array of critical material available, including both series and standalone titles.

Shakespeare: The Critical Tradition

Book covers, from left to right: King Henry V, edited by Joseph Candido; Coriolanus, edited by David George; and The Tempest, edited by Brinda Charry

Examples of titles in the Shakespeare: The Critical Tradition series

The aim of the Critical Tradition series is to increase our knowledge of how Shakespeare’s plays were received and understood by critics, editors, and general readers. Each volume traces the course of Shakespeare criticism, play-by-play, from the earliest items of recorded criticism to the beginning of the modern period.

In February, four more titles in this series arrived at the EFL. They are:

You can use an advanced search on SOLO to browse all the books in this series which are available at the EFL.

Cambridge Collections Online

Book covers, clockwise from top left: The New Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare; Shakespeare and Contemporary Dramatists; Shakespeare on Film; and Shakespeare's First Folio

These are some of the titles in the Cambridge Companions series

The Cambridge Companions series offers a huge range of material on an enormous variety of subjects. Fully searchable digital editions of the series in Literature, Classics, Philosophy, Religion and Culture are available. The Companions can be searched by title or keyword, and you can read chapters online or download them as PDFs.

There’s lots to choose from – here are a few examples from the collection:

Many of the Cambridge Companions are also available as physical books in the library. You could search for a specific titles on SOLO, or use an advanced search to see what’s available.

Standalone books

Alongside these series, there are lots of standalone critical texts relating to Shakespeare and his works. Quite a few new ones arrived at the library at the end of Michaelmas term and through the Easter vacation – have a look at the Shakespeare or Shakespeare Studies tags on LibraryThing to browse the latest arrivals.

As you might expect, there are too many standalone books available to go through them all here! But having so much choice can be overwhelming, and that’s why the English Faculty have put together an ORLO reading list offering some initial guidance and reading suggestions about possible topics and approaches to the English BA FHS Paper: Shakespeare. It’s not intended to be prescriptive, nor as a canon of approaches or texts, but it can be a good place to start when you’re looking to discover texts, critics and areas of interest for yourself.

Audio-visual Resources

If you’d like a break from books, there are still lots of resources to choose from at the EFL and online, from recordings of performances to film and TV dramas, and more besides.

A photo of wooden shelves in the library - the top two shelves contain the new journals display, and the lower three shelves contain the Shakespeare Film Collection

The Shakespeare Film Collection in the library

You can find lots of DVDs in the library, including a whole section of Shakespeare plays on film (and some VHS cassettes!). The Shakespeare films can be found in a different place to the main Film Collection – they’re under the New Journals display, by the quick search PCs.

If you’d like to watch one of the DVDs, you can borrow a portable DVD player from the enquiry desk. You can also watch DVDs or VHS cassettes in the computer room – just ask a member of staff if you’d like help getting set up.

And of course, there’s plenty of audio-visual material online too …

Plays and Performances

We’ve already talked about the play texts you can access through Drama Online, but alongside those texts you can find a huge range of recordings of Shakespeare plays, including performances from the RSC, National Theatre, and Shakespeare’s Globe.

Webpage capture of Drama Online:

Homepage of Drama Online [© Bloomsbury Publishing Plc 2022]

The resources are organised into different collections, some of which feature content about Shakespeare’s plays.

Shakespeare’s Globe on Screen

This collection features 30 productions recorded live on the Globe stage. It includes performances from Mark Rylance and Stephen Fry in Twelfth Night, and Roger Allam’s Olivier Award-winning Falstaff in Henry IV. The latest collection of productions, all staged between 2016 and 2018, includes plays performed at the Sam Wannamaker Playhouse, the Globe’s indoor Jacobean theatre.

RSC Live Collection

The RSC Live Collection offers recordings of 32 RSC productions, with two more due to be added later this year. Each recording is accompanied by fully searchable transcripts with real-time tracking of lines spoken. The available plays including The Tempest starring Simon Russell Beale and featuring live motion capture, and Hamlet with award-winning Paapa Essiedu in the title role.

So far this year, five plays have been added. These are:

Richard III and All’s Well That Ends Well are coming later this year.

National Theatre Collection

Drawing on 10 years of NT Live broadcasts alongside high-quality archive recordings never previously seen outside of the NT’s Archive, the National Theatre Collection offers a total of 50 filmed performances. There are 9 Shakespeare productions available in Collection 1, including Coriolanus starring Tom Hiddleston and Twelfth Night with Tamsin Grieg as a transformed Malvolia in a new twist on Shakespeare’s classic comedy.

You can access Collection 1 now with your Oxford SSO. We will soon have access to Collection 2 as well, featuring two further Shakespeare plays: Macbeth with Rory Kinnear and Anne-Marie Duff, and Romeo and Juliet (2020) which was filmed using the backstage spaces of the National Theatre during the Coronavirus pandemic.

TV and Film

Drama Online has a wealth of resources, but it’s not the only way to access audio-visual material relating to Shakespeare. Box of Broadcasts, or BoB, gives you access to over 2.2 million broadcasts from UK TV and radio. Once you’ve registered or signed in using your Oxford SSO, you can view recordings, save and organise programmes into playlists, and create clips of programmes.

Webpage capture of Box of Broadcasts homepage:

Box of Broadcasts (BoB) homepage [Copyright © 2023 · Learning on Screen – the British Universities and Colleges Film and Video Council]

Searching for a broad term like ‘Shakespeare’ can bring up lots of results, so we’ve put together playlists to help you find programmes and get started. The Film & TV Dramas playlist includes films such as David Tennant’s RSC Hamlet performance, and series like the BBC’s Hollow Crown and the BBC Shakespeare Performances. There’s also a Documentaries playlist of both TV and radio broadcasts, including the Shakespeare Uncovered series. These playlists give an indication of the programmes available, but there’s lots more to be found on BoB!

Too much screen time?

Recordings of performances, films and TV are great, but sometimes you might want to give your eyes a rest and listen to some interesting Shakespeare resources. That’s where the English Faculty’s podcast series can help!

Webpage capture of English Faculty podcasts:

Podcasts from the English Faculty [© 2011-2022 The University of Oxford]

One of the podcasts you could listen to is Approaching Shakespeare, a series of lectures by Professor Emma Smith. Each lecture focuses on one play and employs a range of different approaches to try and understand a critical question about it. The series aims to show the variety of different ways we might understand Shakespeare, the kinds of evidence that might be used to strengthen our cultural analysis, and above all the enjoyable and unavoidable fact that Shakespeare’s plays tend to generate our questions rather than answer them. You can listen online, or find it on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.

Another Shakespeare (or at least Shakespeare-adjacent!) podcast from the English Faculty is Not Shakespeare: Elizabethan and Jacobean Popular Theatre. In this series, Professor Emma Smith introduces 12 once popular but now little-known plays from Shakespeare’s Elizabethan and Jacobean contemporaries. These plays can tell us a lot about what their first audiences enjoyed, aspired to and worried about, as well as broadening our understanding of the theatre Shakespeare wrote for, all while recreating some of the excitement and dramatic possibilities of the new, popular technology of Renaissance theatre. You can listen online, or find it on Apple Podcasts or Google Podcasts.

And there you have it – a quick rundown of some of the types of Shakespeare resources available to you. Don’t forget to check out the Shakespeare LibGuide and the Shakespeare ORLO list for even more!

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