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We have an extraordinary number of resources about Shakespeare at the Rosenthal Library. An exhaustive list would be too long and too non-specific to be useful. Below is a guide to help you find the resources particular to your project as well as a short list of particular reference works in the level 3 stacks. The emphasis here is on variety rather than inclusion.

To narrow your search for works about Shakespeare in the CUNY Catalog it helps to do an advanced, rather than a basic, search. (If you do a basic search for “Shakespeare, William” you will retrieve 2894 results.) In an advanced search you can enter Boolean terms to expand, exclude, or narrow your search. You can also define your search by format, if you're interested in e-books or films, or by location in the library, which is relevant if you want to limit your search to authoritative reference works. The reference works at Rosenthal include dictionaries, handbooks, encyclopedias, bibliographies and Shakespeare's original works (i.e. The Complete Works of…). You can narrow your interest by entering “Shakespeare” as a subject term and adding keywords that pertain to your particular interest.

Note, the authorized term for Shakespeare as a subject is: Shakespeare, William, 1564–1616.

Some subject headings:

  • Dramatists, English—Early Modern, 1500–1700—Biography
  • Shakespeare, William, 1564–1616
  • Shakespeare, William, 1564–1616—Dictionaries.
  • Shakespeare, William, 1564–1616—Technique.
  • Shakespeare, William, 1564–1616—Literary style.
  • Shakespeare, William, 1564–1616—Language.
  • Theater—England—History—16th Century

Call numbers:

Call numbers are helpful because the library attempts to group books on the same subject together on a shelf. Most of the books on Shakespeare are in the call range of PR 2750 - PR 3112. Early in that range, you will find books organized alphabetically by the play they examine, and after that you will find more general criticism. You may also want to see the following call ranges:

  • DA350-360—History of Great Britain—Elizabethan Age
  • PR421-429—English Literature—Elizabethan Era (1550–1640)
  • PR621-744—English Literature—Drama
  • PR2199-3195—English Literature—English Renaissance (1500–1640)
  • Z8001-8999—Personal Bibliography

Guides/Companions: (PR2800-)

Companions are ready reference resources designed to help readers understand complex concepts within the work; entries tend to be alphabetic by entry. An index will allow you to search the entries by topic of interest. Depending on the specificity of the resource, one can look up a play, a character, a place, a common theme, a historical landmark, and more, and discover its significance to a particular Shakespeare play. Companions and guides can be found in the PR2800- section of the reference section on level 3. Here are some examples:

The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare (Reference Level 3 - PR2892 .O94 2001)
An extensive and authoritative text whose cross-referenced entries include characters, plays, scenes, themes. Includes a thematic list of entries, making searching easier.
William Shakespeare, a Textual Companion (Reference Level 3 - PR3071 .W44 1997)
Extensive line by line notes to Shakespeare's major plays, matching The Oxford Shakespeare: The Complete Works
Greenwood Guides to Shakespeare
This series provides basic background information about each individual play, including themes, performances, and critical approaches to the text. The Greenwood Series includes the following guides:
  • King Lear: Reference Level 3 - PR2819 .H35 2001
  • Othello: Reference Level 3 - PR2829 .H35 1999
  • Romeo and Juliet: Circulating: PR2831 .H28 1998
  • Hamlet: Reference Level 3 - PR2807 .M28 1998
  • Julius Caesar: Reference Level 3 - PR2808 .M38 1998
  • Macbeth: Reference Level 3 - PR2823 .C67 1997
  • Henry V: Reference Level 3 - PR2812 .H35 1997
All Things Shakespeare : An Encyclopedia of Shakespeare's World (Reference Level 3 - PR2892 .O56 2002)
If you're curious about the cultural context of Shakespeare's plays and the world he lived in, this resource compiles everyday and obscure facts (such as astronomy, currency, death, medicine) about the time-period and locates them within his texts.

Concordances: (PR2800-)

Concordances break down a text by listing the number of times key words appear within it; listings include the line the word appears in, and where one might find it in the text. Here's an example:

Oxford Shakespeare Concordances
A series of concordances to Shakespeare's works broken down by title; the series begins with All's Well That Ends Well (PR2801.A79 A4) and ends with The Winter's Tale (PR2839.A79 W5).

Variorums: (PR2700-)

Variorums provide line by line critical analysis of complex works of literature by pooling a wide variety of scholarly critical essays and books on the topic and providing minute explications of the text as a series of footnotes. In a very detailed variorum, the footnotes can far exceed the text of the original work. Note that when searching the CUNY Catalog “variorum” is not listed as an authorized subject, nor is it a format, but you can find them by entering 'variorum' as a keyword. Here is an example of a series in our collection:

A new variorum edition of Shakespeare: PR2753 .F5 (volumes 1–29)

Bibliographies: (Z8812-)

Bibliographies compile citations of critical works discussing texts, which can be organized by topic, theme, work, or lines of text within works. Note that printed bibliographies only contain citations up until the book's publication; more recently published critical essays will be found in our electronic databases, which are frequently updated. Here are a few examples of Shakespeare bibliographies at Rosenthal:

Shakespearian Bibliography and Textual Criticism : A Bibliography
Reference Level 3 - Z8811 .H69 2000
Shakespeare and Minorities : An Annotated Bibliography, 1970–2000
Reference Level 3 - Z8813 .K84 2001
Garland Shakespeare Bibliographies. (Annotated Bibliographies of works)
Reference Level 3 - Z8812.A8 H35 1985
This series of annotated bibliographies covers critical reviews and discourse of Shakespeare's major works in separate volumes. The series begins with As You Like It and ends with Timon of Athens. The books sit side by side; call numbers range from Z8812.A8 H35 1985 to Z8812.T55 R87 1986.

Dictionaries: (PR2892-)

Much like a dictionary you would use to discover the meaning of a word, dictionaries in the context of a particular subject, like Shakespeare, provide contextual meaning to key themes, characters, and concepts relevant to Shakespeare. Rosenthal carries a number of dictionaries about Shakespeare.

Dictionaries of Works:

The Oxford Dictionary of Plays (Reference Level 3 - PN1625 .P38 2005)
This work is not specific to Shakespeare, but does list his works alongside the most significant plays in international theater. Filled with plot descriptions and brief analyses.

Topical Dictionaries:

Here is a short list of dictionaries specific to a field of interest:

The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations from Shakespeare
Reference Level 3 - PR2892 .F48 1998
A Dictionary of Shakespeare's Semantic Wordplay
Reference Level 3 - PR2997.P8 W47 1998
A Dictionary of Shakespeare's Sexual Puns and their Significance
Reference Level 3 - PR2997.P8 R82 1984
Music in Shakespeare : a Dictionary
Reference Level 3 - PR3034 .W55 2005
A Shakespeare Glossary
Reference Level 3 - PR 2892 .O6 1986
Shakespeare's Characters: A Historical Dictionary
Reference Level 3 - PR2982 .T45



World Shakespeare Bibliography Online:
Indexes scholarship and theatrical productions between 1960 and 2011, and contains over 128,200 annotated entries. Searchable by productions, individual works, reference works, and critical works. It's not full text, but it does provide citations.
MLA International Bibliography:
The most scholarly and comprehensive database for articles and books on the modern languages, literatures, folklore, and linguistics and literary aspects of film. More than 66,000 citations are added annually.
Covers over 500 journals in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Full text is available for all articles as recently as about 3 - 5 years ago.
Project Muse:
Full-text access to over 200 journals from university presses and scholarly societies, focusing on the humanities and social sciences. A smaller database than JSTOR, but they index an excellent list of journals and their full-text content is more recent.
Shakespeare Criticism - A subset of the database Literature Criticism Online:
This database indexes scholarly articles about Shakespeare's works, and includes critical interpretations dating from the 17th century to the present. Alternative access to this database can be found through Gale Databases. Once in Literature Criticism Online, select Shakespeare Criticism as the Series in the “limit results by series option” on the main page, otherwise you will be conducting a federated-style search through all the series.

Journals and E-Journals

These journals specialize in medieval studies or some aspect thereof. You can browse them to get an idea of what people are talking about in the field. If you need to find articles on a particular topic, however, you are probably better off using a database.

Links are to the most recent issues of the journal that we have.


These websites are recommended because they are sponsored by authoritative institutions, are frequently updated, and are for the most part intended for a scholarly audience. Please consider these factors when you are thinking about using resources on the Web.

Open Source Shakespeare
OSS has the full text of all the plays and poems, and some very useful tools, especially the concordance, list of lines spoken by each character and the sonnet comparison tool.
Perseus Collection: The Works of William Shakespeare
Perseus is an open access collection of classic works, which are available full-text and are fully searchable. The Works of Shakespeare collection provides free online access to Shakespeare's major works, which you can read onscreen. Entries are cross-referenced against dictionaries and other articles in the Perseus database.
Directory to Shakespeare and Renaissance sites on the Web
Maintained at the University of Victoria, Canada. Note the policy for inclusion in the list.

MLA Style

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed.

  • Stacks (Call # A-L Level 4; Call # P-Z Level 5) - LB2369 .G53 2010
  • Desk Reference Level 3 - LB2369 .G53 2010
  • Online MLA Formatting and Style Guide from the OWL at Purdue


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