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Shakespeare's Sources


 Antony and Cleopatra
 Julius Caesar
 King Lear
 Romeo and Juliet
 Timon of Athens
 Titus Andronicus


 Henry IV, Part I
 Henry IV, Part II
 Henry V
 Henry VI, Part I
 Henry VI, Part II
 Henry VI, Part III
 Henry VIII
 King John
 Richard II
 Richard III


 All's Well That Ends Well
 As You Like It
 The Comedy of Errors
 Love's Labours Lost
 Measure for Measure
 The Merry Wives of Windsor
 The Merchant of Venice
 A Midsummer Night's Dream
 Much Ado About Nothing
 Pericles, Prince of Tyre
 The Taming of the Shrew
 The Tempest
 Troilus and Cressida
 Twelfth Night
 Two Gentlemen of Verona
 The Winter's Tale


Bard Bites

So great was the Elizabethan demand for wigs made from human hair that "children with handsome locks were never allowed to walk alone in the London streets for fear they should be temporarily kidnapped and their tresses cut off." Read on...

Most early editors removed five lines from Romeo and Juliet for the sake of common decency. Which lines caused such scandal? Find out...

One of England's greatest writers, and a friend of William Shakespeare, killed the leader of the acting troupe The Admiral's Men, Gabriel Spencer. Who was he?

Related Resources

 The Essential Shakespeare Timeline
 List of Elizabethan Theatres
 Theatrical Allusions in As You Like It

 How to Study Shakespeare
 How to Analyze a Shakespearean Sonnet
 Shakespeare's Blank Verse

 Going to a Play in Elizabethan London
 Entertainment in Elizabethan England
 Shocking Elizabethan Drama
 The King's Men

 Shakespeare Characters A to Z
 Top 10 Shakespeare Plays

 Shakespeare's Audience in his Day
 Going to a Play in Shakespeare's London
 Shakespeare's Metaphors and Similes

 Shakespeare on Old Age
 Shakespeare's Heroines
 Shakespeare's Attention to Details

 Shakespeare's Portrayals of Sleep
 Words Shakespeare Invented
 Shakespeare's Impact on Other Writers

 What Inspired Shakespeare?
 Reasons Behind Shakespeare's Influence

 The First Publication of King Lear
 The Fool in King Lear and his Function in the Play

 Play Chronology
 Shakespeare's Settings
 The First Folio

 Shakespeare's Edward III?
 Shakespeare and Psalm 46
 Were women allowed on the Elizabethan stage?

On Shakespeare's Mind

"Shakespeare's mind may best be likened to a highly sensitised photographic plate, which need only be exposed for the hundredth part of a second to anything in life or literature, in order to receive upon its surface the firm outline of a picture which could be developed and reproduced at will. If Shakespeare's mind for the hundredth part of a second came in contact in an alehouse with a burly good-humoured toper, the conception of a Falstaff found instantaneous admission to his brain. The character had revealed itself to him in most of its involutions, as quickly as his eye caught sight of its external form, and his ear caught the sound of the voice."
Sidney Lee, Great Englishmen of the Sixteenth Century

In the Spotlight

The Importance of King Leir

Mr. Lawrence Barrett as King Lear.The story of King Lear and his three daughters is an old tale, well known in England for centuries before Shakespeare wrote the definitive play on the subject. The first English account of Lear can be found in the History of the Kings of Britain, written by Geoffrey Monmouth in 1135. However, it is clear that Shakespeare relied chiefly on King Leir, an anonymous play published twelve years before the first recorded performance of Shakespeare's King Lear. Read on to find out more about Leir and see side-by-side versions of Leir and Shakespeare's masterpiece.

The Danish History

A painting of Saxo Grammaticus. From Elton's translation, 1905."Shakespeare derived from Saxo's Amleth (Hamlet) the story from which he composed his immortal tragedy. Saxo, however, represents Hamlet as having been twice married, first to a daughter of the King of Britain, whose name does not appear, whom he abandoned to espouse Hermutrude, Queen of the Scots" [Oliver Elton, The Nine Books of the Danish History]. Find out more and read the two books of the Danish History upon which Hamlet is based.