William Shakespeare

How William Shakespeare (1564-1616), son of a provincial glover, became the world's most famous literary icon, is a story that's been told many times. Our appetite for biographies of Shakespeare is apparently insatiable: new lives of Shakespeare are always being written, as if we are still trying to find the key to understand the operation of his genius and the source of his literary immortality. This Great Writers theme focuses on the works themselves, with lectures, ebooks, and supporting material to find new angles and sources of critical analysis and enjoyment. The biographical facts of Shakespeare's life can be easily recounted. He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, a market town in the English midlands, in 1564: his father was a glover. We know little about his education but he almost certainly attended the town grammar school where he would have learned the standard Latin literary and rhetorical curriculum: we see some Elizabethan classroom staples in
Read the essay: William Shakespeare by Emma Smith
# Title Description Contributor
1 Shakespeare and the Oxford English Dictionary (OED)

Professor Charlotte Brewer introduces the methodology behind the creation of the OED and how...

Charlotte Brewer
2 Richard II

Lecture eight in the Approaching Shakespeare series asks the question that structures Richard II...

Emma Smith
3 The Winter's Tale

How we can make sense of a play that veers from tragedy to comedy and stretches credulity in its...

Emma Smith
4 Antony and Cleopatra

What kind of tragedy is this play, with its two central figures rather than a singular hero? The...

Emma Smith
5 Macbeth

In this fourth Approaching Shakespeare lecture the question is one of agency: who or what makes...

Emma Smith
6 Measure for Measure

The third Approaching Shakespeare lecture, on Measure for Measure, focuses on the vexed question...

Emma Smith
7 Hamlet

The fact that father and son share the same name in Hamlet is used to investigate the play'...

Emma Smith
8 King John

At the heart of King John is the death of his rival Arthur: this fifteenth lecture in the...

Emma Smith
9 The Tempest

That the character of Prospero is a Shakespearean self-portrait is a common reading of The...

Emma Smith
10 Richard III

In this thirteenth lecture in the Approaching Shakespeare series the focus is on the...

Emma Smith
11 As You Like It

Asking 'what happens in As You Like It', this lecture considers the play's...

Emma Smith
12 A Midsummer Night's Dream

This lecture on A Midsummer Night's Dream uses modern and early modern understandings of...

Emma Smith
13 Why should we study Shakespeare?

Dr Emma Smith of Hertford College, Oxford, discusses her current research and proposes why we...

Emma Smith, Ilana Lassman
14 Othello

Othello - First in Emma Smith's Approaching Shakespeare lecture series; looking at the...

Emma Smith
15 Shakespeare Lectures

Dr. Ralph W. Schlosser's lectures on the life and work of William Shakespeare. Recorded in 1965...

Dr. Ralph W. Schlosser
16 King Lear

Showing how generations of critics - and Shakespeare himself - have rewritten the ending of King...

Emma Smith
17 Pericles, Prince of Tyre

Pericles has been on the margins of the Shakespearean canon: this fourteenth lecture in the...

Emma Smith
18 Titus Andronicus

Focusing in detail on one particular scene, and on critical responses to it, this sixth...

Emma Smith
19 Acting Masterclass: "Lend me your ears"

A practical Masterclass with Greg Doran from the Royal Shakespeare Company on how Shakespeare...

Gregory Doran, Sam Leith
20 Taming of the Shrew

Emma Smith uses evidence of early reception and from more recent productions to discuss the...

Emma Smith
21 Acting Masterclass: 'Pyramus, you begin'

A practical Masterclass looking at what clues Shakespeare puts into the verse for the actor....

Gregory Doran
22 A Discussion of Emily Dickinson's 'I started early, took my dog'.

Dr Sally Bayley presents an illuminating reading of Emily Dickinson's 'I started early...

Sally Bayley
23 Why should we study Elizabethan Theatre?

Professor Tiffany Stern of University College, Oxford, discusses her current research and...

Tiffany Stern, Ilana Lassman
24 Shakespeare and the Stage

Professor Tiffany Stern gives a talk on William Shakespeare and how his plays were performed in...

Tiffany Stern
25 The Comedy of Errors

Lecture 12 in the Approaching Shakespeare series asks how seriously we can take the farcical...

Emma Smith
26 Shakespeare and Voice

Linda Gates, Professor of Voice at Northwestern University (USA) discusses how Shakespeare'...

Linda Gates
27 Twelfth Night

The seventh Approaching Shakespeare lecture takes a minor character in Twelfth Night - Antonio...

Emma Smith
28 The Bodleian Shakespeare: A treasure lost... and regained

From the 2010 Alumni Weekend. Emma Smith reveals how Oxford University mobilised Alumni support...

Emma Smith
29 Henry V

The second lecture in the Approaching Shakespeare series looks at King Henry V, and asks whether...

Emma Smith
30 The Merchant of Venice

This lecture on The Merchant of Venice discusses the ways the play's personal relationships...

Emma Smith
31 Shakespeare and Medieval Romance

Professor Helen Cooper, University of Cambridge, speaks about the continuities between the...

Helen Cooper
32 Much Ado About Nothing

Emma Smith asks why the characters are so quick to believe the self-proclaimed villain Don John...

Emma Smith
33 Henry IV part 1

Like generations of theatre-goers, this lecture concentrates on the (large) figure of Sir John...

Emma Smith
# Title Description Contributor
1 The Tempest: For you am I this patient log-man

The director and actors talk about the log-scene in The Tempest and how they interpret and...

Archie Cornish, Dylan Townley
2 The Tempest: Direction and interpretation

Director Archie Cornish and actor Dylan Townley - Prospero - talk about adapting, directing and...

Archie Cornish, Dylan Townley
3 Understanding Shakespeare

The actor Nick Lyons talks about the challenge of the language barrier and how he dealt with it...

Nick Lyons
4 Two Gentlemen of Verona: The view from the Director

The director talks about how she adapted the script and directed the student Shakespeare...

Kate O'Connor
5 Genre (pt.1)

Video podcast with Dr Jane Rickard, The University of Leeds. Part 1 (of 2) + discussion forum...

Jane Rickard
6 The Tempest: Our revels now are ended

The famous Shakespeare scene from The Tempest, performed by actors from an Oxford student drama...

Dylan Townley
7 Acting Masterclass: "Lend me your ears"

A second Masterclass on how Shakespeare spins rhetoric for the actor, with Sam Leith, journalist...

Gregory Doran, Sam Leith
8 Acting Masterclass: 'Pyramus, you begin'

A practical Masterclass with Greg Doran from the Royal Shakespeare Company looking at what clues...

Gregory Doran
9 The Tempest - Our revels now are ended: Conveying Shakespeare's meaning

The actor Dylan Townley talks about the language of Shakespeare. He describes how understanding...

Dylan Townley
10 The language of Shakespeare

Actors and the director talk about how they have approached and worked with their student...

Kate O'Connor
11 Teaching Shakespeare in Schools

A teacher talks about how she teaches Shakespeare in school, using video clips and references...

Joyti Chandegra
12 16.To Shakespeare and Beyond: a panel discussion.

Cultural Connections discussion panel Casandra Ash, Peter Kirwan, Jose Perez Diaz and Emma Smith...

Cassandra Ash, Peter Kirwan, José Pérez Díez, Emma Smith
13 The Tempest: Prospero

Actor Dylan Townley talks with director Archie Cornish about the character Prospero. They...

Archie Cornish, Dylan Townley
14 Shakespeare and the Stage

Professor Tiffany Stern gives a talk on William Shakespeare and how his plays were performed in...

Tiffany Stern
# Title Description Author
1 The Tragedy of Coriolanus.

ebook version of The Tragedy of Coriolanus.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
2 Shakespeare, Bacon and the Great Unknown

'Shakespeare, Bacon and the Great Unknown' by the literary critic Andrew Lang.

Andrew Lang
3 The life and death of King Richard the Second.

ebook version of The life and death of King Richard the Second.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
4 THE TRAGEDIE OF Troylus and Cressida.

ebook version of THE TRAGEDIE OF Troylus and Cressida.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
5 On 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'

This essay on Shakespeare's play 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' is by Arthur Machen, and forms...

Arthur Machen
6 The Plays of William Shakespeare as published in the first folio of 1623

ebook version of The Plays of William Shakespeare as published in the first folio of 1623

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
7 The third Part of Henry the Sixt, with the death of the Duke of YORKE.

ebook version of The third Part of Henry the Sixt, with the death of the Duke of YORKE.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
8 'A Talk for Twelfth Night'

This essay on Shakespeare's play 'Twelfth Night' by Arthur Machen forms chapter fifteen of the...

Arthur Machen
9 The Famous History of the Life of King HENRY the Eight.

ebook version of The Famous History of the Life of King HENRY the Eight.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
10 The First Part of Henry the Fourth, with the Life and Death of HENRY Sirnamed HOT-SPVRRE.

ebook version of The First Part of Henry the Fourth, with the Life and Death of HENRY Sirnamed...

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
11 The Preface to Shakespeare

'The preface to Shakespeare' by Samuel Johnson. Together with selected notes on some of the...

Samuel Johnson
12 THE TRAGEDIE OF Anthonie, and Cleopatra.

ebook version of THE TRAGEDIE OF Anthonie, and Cleopatra.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
13 As you Like it.

ebook version of As you Like it.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
14 'Spenser, Johnson, and Shakspeare'

Chapter taken from Issac Disraeli's 'Curiosities of Literature'. Edited, with Memoir and Notes,...

Issac Disraeli
15 THE Two Gentlemen of Verona.

ebook version of THE Two Gentlemen of Verona.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
16 The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark William Shakespeare
17 Shakespeare and Music Christopher Wilson
18 The tragedie of HAMLET, Prince of Denmarke.

ebook version of The tragedie of HAMLET, Prince of Denmarke.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
19 Twelfe Night, Or what you will.

ebook version of Twelfe Night, Or what you will.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
20 Shakespeare and Stage Costume

Text upon which this Online Edition is Based: “Shakespeare and
Stage Costume,” in The...

Oscar Wilde
21 Much adoe about Nothing.

ebook version of Much adoe about Nothing.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
22 The Second Part of Henry the Fourth, Containing his Death: and the Coronation of King Henry the Fift.

ebook version of The Second Part of Henry the Fourth, Containing his Death: and the Coronation...

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
23 The Rape of Lucrece William Shakespeare
24 An essay on the learning of Shakespeare: addressed to Joseph Cradock, Esq; The second edition, with large additions. By Richard Farmer, ...

ebook version of An essay on the learning of Shakespeare: addressed to Joseph Cradock, Esq; The...

Farmer, Richard, 1735-1797.
25 THE TRAGEDIE OF CYMBELINE.

ebook version of THE TRAGEDIE OF CYMBELINE.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
26 Venus and Adonis William Shakespeare
27 THE LIFE OF TYMON OF ATHENS.

ebook version of THE LIFE OF TYMON OF ATHENS.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
28 THE TRAGEDIE OF ROMEO and IVLIET

ebook version of THE TRAGEDIE OF ROMEO and IVLIET

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
29 THE Merry Wiues of Windsor.

ebook version of THE Merry Wiues of Windsor.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
30 Introduction to Shakespeare's plays, containing an essay on oratoryOrator

ebook version of Introduction to Shakespeare's plays, containing an essay on oratoryOrator

Gentleman, Francis, 1728-1784.
31 The Merchant of Venice.

ebook version of The Merchant of Venice.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
32 The life and death of King Iohn.

ebook version of The life and death of King Iohn.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
33 THE TRAGEDIE OF MACBETH.

ebook version of THE TRAGEDIE OF MACBETH.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
34 MEASVRE, For Measure.

ebook version of MEASVRE, For Measure.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
35 THE TRAGEDIE OF IVLIVS CAESAR.

ebook version of THE TRAGEDIE OF IVLIVS CAESAR.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
36 A MIDSOMMER Nights Dreame.

ebook version of A MIDSOMMER Nights Dreame.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
37 THE TEMPEST.

ebook version of THE TEMPEST.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
38 The Comedie of Errors.

ebook version of The Comedie of Errors.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
39 THE TRAGEDIE OF Othello, the Moore of Venice.

ebook version of THE TRAGEDIE OF Othello, the Moore of Venice.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
40 Loues Labour's lost.

ebook version of Loues Labour's lost.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
41 The second Part of Henry the Sixt, with the death of the Good Duke HVMFREY.

ebook version of The second Part of Henry the Sixt, with the death of the Good Duke HVMFREY.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
42 THE Taming of the Shrew.

ebook version of THE Taming of the Shrew.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
43 The Tragedy of Richard the Third: with the Landing of Earle Richmond, and the Battell at Bosworth Field.

ebook version of The Tragedy of Richard the Third: with the Landing of Earle Richmond, and the...

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
44 The Winters Tale.

ebook version of The Winters Tale.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
45 THE TRAGEDIE OF KING LEAR.

ebook version of THE TRAGEDIE OF KING LEAR.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
46 An essay on the character of Hamlet: As performed by Mr. Henderson, at the Theatre Royal in the Hay-Market.

ebook version of An essay on the character of Hamlet: As performed by Mr. Henderson, at the...

Pilon, Frederick, 1750-1788.
47 The Lamentable Tragedy of Titus Andronicus.

ebook version of The Lamentable Tragedy of Titus Andronicus.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
48 The Sonnets William Shakespeare
49 The Life of Henry the Fift.

ebook version of The Life of Henry the Fift.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
50 ALL'S Well, that Ends Well.

ebook version of ALL'S Well, that Ends Well.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
51 'Spenser, Jonson, and Shakespeare'

Chapter taken from Issac Disraeli's collection of essay entitled 'Curiosities of Literature',...

Issac Disraeli
52 The first Part of Henry the Sixt.

ebook version of The first Part of Henry the Sixt.

Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616
# Essay Title Description Contributor
1 William Shakespeare

How William Shakespeare (...

Emma Smith
2 Renaissance Theatre

By Emma Smith

Emma Smith
3 Early Modern Drama on the Page and Stage

By Emma Smith

Emma Smith
4 Elizabethan and Jacobean Theatres

By Kate O'Connor

Elizabethan...

Kate O'Connor
5 Why Shakespeare Was Shakespeare

By Kate O'Connor

Kate O'Connor
6 English Renaissance Timeline: Some Historical and Cultural Dates

This list offers an overview of some historical and cultural dates from the English Renaissance...

Kate O'Connor
# Resource Title Description Contributor
1 Shakespeare's Birthplace

William Shakespeare's birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England.
7 August...

2 Shakespeare's Globe

By Aldo Ardetti (Own work), October 2007.
[GFDL (...

3 Shakespeare's Birthplace2
4 Second Globe Theatre

Globe Theatre - second Globe Theatre, from Hollar's View of London (1647).
The Project...

# Resource Title Description Contributor
1 Open Source Shakespeare

The Open Source Shakespeare website includes the 1864 Globe Edition of the complete works.

...
2 Science of Shakespeare (visualisations)

Diagrams (static and moving) showing various ways of illustrating speaker turns, speech lengths...

Patrick Lockley
3 Commerce and Culture, Lecture 2: Shakespeare's Theater ... Paul A. Cantor