Shakespeare Reading List

A Shakespeare Reading List

While online sites such as Open Source Shakespeare and You Tube are vital resources, my preferred reference sources for all-things-Shakespeare are still books. Compiling a list of my favorite and/or most helpful books on Shakespeare is an ongoing, ultimately impossible task, but the list below is a good start. These represent the heart of my personal Shakespeare library and I’m sure show my biases and particular hang-ups. I’ve broken the list into various categories: popular, academic, “Catholic Shakespeare,” teaching the Bard, and my Top Five. Most of these works can still be found in libraries and bookstores. Hyperlinked titles are books for sale at


•   Bates, Jonathan. The Genius of Shakespeare . London: Picador, 1997.

•   Bates, Laura. Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard. Napierville, IL: Sourcebooks, 2013.

•   Bloom, Harold. Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human . New York: Riverhead Books, 1998.

•   Crystal, Ben. Shakespeare on Toast. London: Icon Books, 2008.

•   Fogg, Nicholas. Hidden Shakespeare: A Biography. Gloucestershire: Amberly Publishing, 2012.

•   Greenblatt, Stephen. Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare . New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2004.

•   Norwich, John Julius. Shakespeare’s Kings: The Great Plays and the History of England in the Middle Ages: 1337-1485. New York: Touchstone, 2001.

•   Rosenbaum, Ron. The Shakespeare Wars. New York: Random House, 2006.

•   Rowse, A. L. William Shakespeare: A Biography . New York: Harper and Row, 1963.

•   Shapiro, James. Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare? . New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010.

•   Shapiro, James, Ed. Shakespeare in America: An Anthology. New York: Library of America, 2014.

•   Shapiro, James, A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599. New York, Harper Collins, 2005.

•   Schoenbaum, Sam. Shakespeare: His Life, His Language, His Theater . New York: Signet Classics, 1990.

•   Schoenbaum, Sam. Shakespeare’s Lives . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1970.

•   Tanner, Tony. Prefaces to Shakespeare. Boston: Harvard University Press, 2012.

•   Wells, Stanley. Shakespeare & Co. New York: Pantheon Books, 2006.

•   Wilson, Edwin, ed. Shaw on Shakespeare. New York: Applause, 2002.

•   Wilson, Ian. Shakespeare: The Evidence : Unlocking the Mysteries of the Man and His Work . New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994.


•   Chambers, E. K. William Shakespeare: A Study of facts and Problems – 2 Volume Complete Set ( Volumes I and II ) . 2 vols. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1930.

•   Gallagher, Catherine & Stephen Greenblatt. Practicing New Historicism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

•   Goddard, Harold. The Meaning of Shakespeare, Vol. 1. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960.

•   Honigmann, E. A. J. Shakespeare: The Lost Years . Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1985.

•   Kermode, Frank. Shakespeare’s Language . New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2000.

•   Kermode, Frank. The Age of Shakespeare. New York: Random House, 2004.

•   Muir, Kenneth. The Sources of Shakespeare’s Plays . London: Methuen, 1977.

•   Rothwell, Kenneth. A History of Shakespeare on Screen. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

•   Schoenbaum, Sam. William Shakespeare: A Compact Documentary Life (Oxford Paperbacks) . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988.

•   Schoenbaum, Sam. William Shakespeare: Records and Images . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981.

•   Taylor, Gary. Reinventing Shakespeare. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

•   Wells, Stanley, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare Studies (Cambridge Companions to Literature) . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986.


•   Asquinth, Clare. Shadowplay: The Hidden Beliefs and Coded Politics of William Shakespeare. New York: Public Affairs, 2005.

•   Hammerschmidt-Hummel, Hildegard. The Life and Times of William Shakespeare. London: Chaucer Press, 2007.

•   Milward, Peter. Shakespeare the Papist. Naples, Fla: Sapientia Press, 2005.

•   Noonan, John T., Jr. Shakespeare’s Spiritual Sonnets. Charleston: 2011.

•   Pearce, Joseph. The Quest for Shakespeare: The Bard of Avon and the Church of Rome. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008.

•   Roe, Richard Paul. The Shakespeare Guide to Italy. New York, Harper Perennial, 2011.

•   Sams, Eric. The Real Shakespeare: Retrieving the Early Years. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995.

•   Wilson, Ian. Shakespeare: The Evidence. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 1993.


•   Brine, Adrienne & Michael York. A Shakespearean Actor Prepares. New York: Smith and Krauss, 2000.

•   Bruder, Melissa and others. A Practical Handbook for the Actor. New York: Random House, 1986.

•   Edelstein, Barry. Thinking Shakespeare. New York: Spark Publishing, 2007.

•   Lamb, Charles and Mary Lamb. Tales from Shakespeare: Children’s Classics . New York: Children’s Classics, 1999.

•   Ludwig, Ken. How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare. New York: Broadway Books, 2013.

•   No Fear Shakespeare Series (various volumes). New York: Spark Publishing, 2003-present.

ROB’S TOP FIVE (for now…)

•    Bloom, Harold. Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human . Whether you love him or hate him (or both, in my case), this book is a classic.

•   Edelstein, Barry. Thinking Shakespeare. The best book ever written when it comes to understanding Shakespeare’s plays through acting. I use it in every Shakespeare class I teach.

•   Greenblatt, Stephen. Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare . Wonderful introduction to “new historicism” and a great overview of Shakespeare’s age.

•   Honigmann, E. A. J. Shakespeare: The Lost Years . Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1985. A solid mainstream academic breaks new ground in this look at Shakespeare’s origins.

•   Kermode, Frank. Shakespeare’s Language . New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2000. My favorite literary critic when it comes to Shakespeare.