RESOURCES: early modern PLAYS on STAGE & PAGE
¶ This is a list of online databases, catalogues, projects, images, video, reference works, &c, for the study of early modern plays at the intersection of performance and print. Two caveats: (1) it is not an exhaustive list; and (2) it is meant to supplement—not replace—scholarship published in more traditional venues such as journals, edited collections, and monographs. ¶ Some of the resources focus on textual iterations of plays, while others are more interested in performance. Many, in their own ways, illuminate and/or pose questions about dramatic bi-modality. ¶ Several of these resources are only accessible via an institutional subscription. In these cases, I have linked to Penn State Libraries' access portal. ¶ Finally, thank you to colleagues who have collected and shared many of these links on their own sites—see the blog section below, for example—as well as to those who have alerted me to newly completed and in-progress projects of interest. As always, if you know of a resource that's not on this list but you think should be, please email me ( roaringgirle [at] gmail [dot] com ).
¶ UPDATED: April 9, 2019
EARLY MODERN THEater HISTORY
Projects—some ongoing—that research, document, explore, and/or interpret early modern plays and their original performance contexts.
Henslowe-Alleyn Digitization Project — Essays about and images of manuscripts left to Dulwich College by the actor Edward Alleyn (1566-1626), including Philip Henslowe's "diary" and the "part" of Orlando Furioso.
REED: Patrons & Performances — A range of resources for studying touring performers, as well as their patrons, playing places and travel routes, in England outside London before 1642.
Shakespearean London Theatres (ShaLT) — Maps, films, and recordings of lectures about the London theatres of Shakespeare's time.
Early Modern London Theatres (EMLoT) — A research database of records relating to London theatres, including the Red Lion (1567), the Theatre (1576), the Curtain (1577), Newington Butts (1570s), the Swan (1595), the Fortune (1600), the Boar's Head (1602), the Red Bull (1604), the Hope (1614), the Phoenix or Cockpit (1616), and Salisbury Court (1629).
Before Shakespeare: The Beginnings of London Commercial Theatre, 1565-1595 — Lively repository of archival research and performance workshops aimed at examining the mid-sixteenth-century origins of London's commercial playhouses.
Rose Theatre Research Trust — Information about the Rose, including its early modern history and its excavation in 1989, as well as details about past, current, and future productions.
The Theatre: Shakespeare's First Theatre — Images and information pertaining to the 2010 excavation of the Theatre.
The Curtain: Archaeology — Overview of the ongoing excavation of the Curtain Theatre in Shoreditch. See also these updates from the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) and this early account of the news by Holger Syme.
Original Pronunciation (David Crystal et al) — Site dedicated to the study and performance of early modern plays and other early texts in OP.
Virtual Paul's Cross Project (NC State) — Explores the physical environment and acoustics St. Paul's Cathedral and churchyard, providing historical and multi-sensory contexts for the sermon John Donne preached there on the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot (November 5, 1622).
Biographical Index of English Drama Before 1660 — Annotated list of all playwrights, actors, patrons, musicians, and others known to be active in the production and reception of English plays until 1660.
Compendium of Renaissance Drama — Quirky digests of characters, sources, places (real & fictional), and historical people related to early modern plays.
The Early Modern Drama Database — Basic tables of plays performed between 1576 and 1642 organized by playwright, title, company, and playhouse.
The Diary of Samuel Pepys (Paul Gyford) — Full text of Pepys' diary (blogged in real time between January 2003 until May 2012 and again starting in January 2013), as well as letters sent and received by Pepys and entries about the people, places, and things in Pepys' daily life.
Shakespearean Promptbooks of the Seventeenth Century — Images and transcriptions of manuscript annotations in Folio texts marked up for performance. Online version of G. Blakemore Evans' 8-volume reference work of the same name.
Romeo & Juliet: Searchable Database for Prompt Books (Jill Levenson) — Database of information from ±170 prompt books for productions of Romeo & Juliet staged between the seventeenth century and the 1980s.
The London Stage, 1660-1800: a calendar of plays, entertainments & afterpieces, together with casts, box-receipts and contemporary comment (Part 1: 1660-1700) (University of Michigan Libraries via HathiTrust) — First volume of the classic reference work. Provides a chronology, production details, and reception histories for plays on the Restoration English stage.
Resources to watch, study, and teach modern performances of early modern plays.
COMPANIES, FESTIVALS, & PERFORMANCE ARCHIVES
Global Shakespeares (MIT) — Open access video and performance archive of Shakespeare productions from around the world and related scholarly resources (essays, scripts, interviews, etc).
Cheek by Jowl (London UK) — Includes a robust online company archive of materials relating to past productions.
Edward's Boys (Stratford-upon-Avon UK)
The Dolphin's Back (London UK)
Lazarus Theatre Company (London UK)
PERFORMANCE-AS-RESEARCH & RELATED EDITORIAL PROJECTS
Performing the Queen's Men (McMaster University) — Collection of materials, including video, from the "original practices" rehearsal and staging of three Queen's Men plays: The Famous Victories of Henry V, King Leir, and Friar Bacon & Friar Bungay.
The Three Ladies of London in Context (McMaster University, University of Waterloo, University of Toronto) — Collection of materials (videos, scripts, images, glossaries) relating to the performance-as-research staging of Robert Wilson's The Three Ladies of London and related conference proceedings in 2015. Also features materials from a comparative staging of 1 Henry VI .
The Dutch Courtesan (University of York) — Records relating to the preparations for and performances of John Marston's The Dutch Courtesan in 2013, including a film of the entire production.
The Complete Works of John Marston (Leeds) — Supporting website for the forthcoming print edition of The Complete Works of John Marston. Includes clips and full performances of several Marston plays as well as short essays written by the plays' editors.
The Thomas Nashe Project (Newcastle) — Supporting website for the forthcoming print edition of Nashe's works. Includes a range of resources to contextualize his life and writings as well as information about upcoming features and events related to the project.
Staging and Representing the Scottish Renaissance Court (Brunel University & University of Edinburgh) — Repository of multi-media documents relating to the Scottish Renaissance and Stewart courts, modern images of national identity, and the Scottish past. Includes a full-length recording of the project's 2013 production of A Satire of the Three Estates.
Staging the Henrician Court (Oxford Brookes University & University of Edinburgh) — Records of a research project examining Tudor court drama, including a full-length recording of the project's 2009 production of John Heywood's The Play of the Weather.
SITES TO GENERATE CUE SCRIPTS
Play the Knave (University of California, Davis) — Site for a motion-capture video game that lets players perform scenes from Shakespeare's plays.
Good Tickle Brain: A Shakespeare Web Comic — (Mostly) Shakespeare-related comics by Mya Gosling.
PRINTED BOOKS & THE BOOK TRADE
Databases and digitized resource books that help track the publication of plays in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Database of Early English Playbooks (DEEP) (Zachary Lesser & Alan Farmer) — User-friendly and customizable database of information (from a variety of key print and online reference works) about every playbook produced in England, Scotland, and Ireland before 1660. Designed to facilitate research on the publication, printing, and marketing of early modern plays.
Literary Print Culture: The Stationers' Company Archive, 1554-2007 [PSU login required] — Subscription-based database of primary documents connected to the Stationers' Company. Features downloadable, high-res digital images of the Entry Books of Copies, membership records, court records, and English Stock Company records. Also includes text-searchable copies of the Arber and Eyre transcripts (see below for open-access copies of these books). An invaluable resource for studying the early English book trade. [If the link above does not work, navigate to the database via the link on here.]
British Book Trade Index (BBTI) — Catalogue of people known to have worked in the English and Welsh book trades before 1851. Aggregates brief biographical and trade details for each.
Scottish Book Trade Index (SBTI) — Names, trades, and addresses of all known figures working in Scottish book production before 1850.
London Book Trades (LBT) — A wiki-style database containing biographical information on more than 30,000 individuals (printers, booksellers, bookbinders, stationers, and those in associated trades) who worked in the book trade in and around London before 1830.
Women and the Book Trade (Oxford Bibliographies) [PSU login required] — Paywalled but extensive annotated bibliography by Helen Smith of scholarship and reference works pertaining to women in the early modern European book trade. A terrific starting point for any research on the subject.
Early Printed Books (Sarah Werner) — An open-access website companion to Werner’s book Studying Early Printed Books, 1450-1800: A Practical Guide (Wiley 2019) that can be used in conjunction with the book or on its own. Includes a variety of images designed to illustrate and explain the features of early printed books as well as resources for teaching about early printed books.
SELECT DIGITIZED PRINT REFERENCE WORKS
Dictionaries of Printers and Booksellers in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and of Foreign Printers of English Books, 1557-1640 (McKerrow) (University of Michigan Libraries via HathiTrust)
Dictionary of the Booksellers who were at Work in England, Scotland, and Ireland, 1641-1667 (University of Michigan Libraries via Internet Archive) & 1668-1725 (University of California Libraries via Internet Archive)
Printers & Publishers' Devices in England & Scotland, 1485-1640 (McKerrow) (Royal College of Physicians, London, via Internet Archive)
A Census of Shakespeare's Plays in Quarto, 1594-1709 (Bartlett & Pollard) (University of California Libraries via Internet Archive)
Mr William Shakespeare Original And Early Editions Of His Quartos And Folios His Source Books And Those Containing Contemporary Notices (Bartlett) (via Internet Archive)
digital texts & IMAGES
Sites that feature full texts—whether facsimiles, transcriptions, or high-resolution images—of early modern plays. (See Sarah Werner's helpful post about reuse policies for digital image collections, in particular.)
Digital Anthology of Early Modern English Drama (EMED) (Folger) — Full texts of 29 plays not attributed to Shakespeare (downloadable in a variety of formats) plus metadata for all 403 non-Shakespearean plays associated with the commercial theater between 1576 and 1642. Users have the option to read full texts in original or conservatively regularized spelling.
Digital Renaissance Editions (DRE) (UVic) — Electronic scholarly editions of early English plays and texts of related interest. Annotated and collated.
Lost Plays Database (LPD) — A searchable, wiki-style database of information about and images relating to plays written and/or performed between 1570 and 1642 but that do not survive in a full text.
Early English Books Online (EEBO) [PSU login required] — Subscription-based database of digital facsimile page images of almost every work printed in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and British North America (as well as works in English printed elsewhere) between 1473 and 1700. Based on the Early English Books collection of microfilm facsimile images of actual books.
Early English Books Online-Text Creation Partnership (EEBO-TCP) — XML/SGML encoded electronic text editions of early print books based on page images in EEBO. The first 25,000 transcriptions have been available in the public domain as EEBO-TCP, Phase I, since January 2015, with an additional 20,000 to enter the public domain in 2020.
Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) [PSU login required] — Subscription-based database of facsimile images of over 180,000 (primarily) English titles published during the 18th century in the UK and elsewhere. About 2,300 have undergone optical character recognition (OCR) and are fully searchable here. For information about locating ECCO-TCP texts in the public domain, see Stephen H. Gregg's helpful finding aid.
Early English Playbooks, 1594-1799 (Boston Public Library) — Open-access images of more than 1,500 individual editions of early English plays, including public stage plays, masques, pageants, and other dramatic entertainments.
Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text and Image (SCETI), Furness Shakespeare Library (UPenn Libraries) — A searchable online repository of select texts and images from the Horace Howard Furness Shakespeare Library.
Furness Theatrical Image Collection (UPenn Libraries) — Digital images of more than 2,000 prints and photographs relating to the performance of Shakespeare, mostly in the 19th century.
LUNA: Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Image Collection — Over 100,000 high-res images from the Folger's collection, including books, theater memorabilia, manuscripts, art, and more. Updates to the database are noted here.
Queen's Men Editions (UVic) — Peer-reviewed original- and modern-spelling editions of Queen's Men plays with theatrical, historical, and scholarly contexts. Affiliated with Performing the Queen's Men and Internet Shakespeare Editions.
An Online Reader of John Cotgrave's The English Treasury of Wit & Language (Joshua McEvilla) — Site dedicated to illuminating the earliest printed miscellany consisting exclusively of extracts from British print and manuscript plays. Provides a variety of ways to study the 58 dramatists and 240 plays represented in Cotgrave's Treasury.
English Broadside Ballads Archive (EBBA) (University of California, Santa Barbara) — An easily navigable online repository that makes broadside ballads from many different holdings easily and fully accessible in a number of forms: ballad sheet facsimiles, facsimile transcriptions, text transcriptions, and recordings.
Broadside Ballads Online (Bodleian Library, Oxford) — Digital collection of English printed ballad-sheets from the Bodleian's extensive holdings. Includes links to other resources for the study of the English ballad tradition.
Digital.Bodleian — More than 700,000 digital images from the Bodleian Library's collections, including many relating to the print and performance histories of early modern plays.
British Printed Images to 1700 — A database of book illustrations and prints produced in early modern England.
Annotated Books Online — A archive of digital images of early modern annotated books drawn from a range of special collections libraries.
Luminarium: Anthology of English Literature — Links to full texts of early modern plays and other literary texts, organized by author.
PLAYWRIGHT-SPECIFIC digital texts & IMAGES
Sites that feature full texts—whether facsimiles, transcriptions, or high-resolution images—or links to full texts of plays by particular playwrights.
First Folios (via sarahwerner.net) — A regularly update list of digitized First Folios with “quick takes” and more extensive descriptions of and commentary on each.
Shakespeare in Quarto (British Library) — View and compare 107 copies of the 21 Shakespeare plays published in quarto before 1642.
The Shakespeare Quarto Archive (British Library) — View and compare cover-to-cover digital reproductions and transcriptions of 32 copies of the first five quarto editions of Hamlet.
The Quartos of William Shakespeare (Rare Book Room) — A basic and somewhat ideosyncratic interface that provides access to images of Shakespeare's plays in quarto and folio, as well as editions of the poems (Venus & Adonis, Lucrece, Shake-speares Sonnets, and Poems ).
Shakespeare Census (Zachary Lesser and Adam G. Hooks) — View information about (including the location of) all known extant copies of non-folio editions of Shakespeare’s plays and poems through 1700. Includes all titles attributed to Shakespeare in print during the period, except for Restoration adaptations. Features copy-specific information for almost 1,800 items. An ongoing project.
Shakespeare in Sheets (Illinois State University) — Offers a growing archive of free PDF downloads of Shakespeare quartos and octavos in printable and foldable sheets of paper—as they would have come of early modern presses. Provides instructions for making books from these sheets.
Original New Variorum Shakespeare (Michael S. Stapleton) — Links to digitized copies of the 27 volumes in the New Variorum series (1871 and 1955), overseen by Horace Howard Furness and his son Horace Howard Furness Jr.
Internet Shakespeare Editions (UVic) — Open-access site providing peer reviewed online editions of Shakespeare's plays and poems, a range of related critical and reference materials, a database of Shakespeare in performance (on stage and screen), and theater reviews.
Folger Digital Texts — Free digital texts of Shakespeare's plays and poems taken from the FSL editions edited by Barbara Mowat and Paul Werstine. All texts are coded and downloadable in a number of different formats.
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (MIT) — "The Web's first edition of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare." Links to full texts of the plays and poems.
Open Source Shakespeare (Eric Johnson) — Searchable full texts of Shakespeare's plays and poems based on the 1864 Globe Edition, "the definitive single-volume Shakespeare edition for over a half-century." Includes a concordance.
Understanding Shakespeare (JSTOR) — Click on any line in the Folger Shakespeare Library edition of any play and see all the articles in JSTOR than mention that line.
Shakespeare Documented (Folger) — The largest digital collection of primary documents related to Shakespeare. Includes all known manuscript and print references to the man, his works, and additional references to his family, during and after his lifetime.
The Books That Made Shakespeare (University of Iowa Libraries) — An online exhibition that explores the role of books in shaping Shakespeare's works and reputation. Includes images and video.
The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Ben Jonson Online [PSU login required] — Subscription-only access to the edited texts (old and modern spelling), records relating to Jonson's life and masques, and musical recordings associated with Jonson's writings. Free content includes scholarly essays, a chronology of Jonson's life and works, and a calendar of performances.
FRANCIS BEAUMONT & JOHN FLETCHER
Comedies and Tragedies (1647) (PSU Libraries)
Fifty Comedies and Tragedies (1679) (Google Books)
Dekkerthon 2016 (Shakespeare Institute) — Links to full texts of Dekker's plays used during the 2016 marathon reading of his corpus.
Richard Brome Online (Royal Holloway & Sheffield) — Old spelling and modernized editions of Brome's plays. Includes the capability to read both versions side-by-side and watch clips of certain key moments in performance.
Digital Cavendish Project (Shawn Moore, Jacob Tootalian, et al) — Rich online repository of digital research, image archives, scholarly projects, and teaching materials/resources related to the life and writings of Margaret Cavendish. Includes a reading edition of The Convent of Pleasure, as well as images and transcriptions of selections from Playes (1662) and Plays, Never Before Printed (1668).
Catalogue of English Literary Manuscripts, 1450-1700 (CELM) (Peter Beal) — A complete catalogue of "literary manuscripts" by 237 early modern British authors. Includes descriptions of more than 37,000 manuscript texts of poems, plays, discourses, translations, &c., and makes it possible to view entries for texts organized by manuscript, repository, or author.
Early Modern Manuscripts Online (EMMO) (Folger) — Crowd-source project designed to make a variety of manuscripts from the Folger's collection available to users for free via an easy, searchable web site with high-quality images and consistent transcriptions of letters, diaries, wills, coats of arms, literary pieces, recipe books, miscellanies, and more. An overview is available here.
Dramatic Extracts (DEx) (Laura Estill and Beatrice Montedoro) — Open-access database of extracts of early modern plays copied into seventeenth-century manuscripts.
Frances Wolfreston Hor Bouks (Sarah Lindenbaum) — In-progress, crowd-sourced project to identify, reassemble, and catalog the library of Frances Wolfreston, an English gentrywoman who owned, read, and commented on a wide array of books, including playbooks.
Provenance Online Project (POP) (UPenn Libraries) — Collaborative, open-access project that makes available digital images of provenance evidence contained in books (bookplates, inscriptions, labels, bindings, and other physical attributes indicating ownership) along with relevant bibliographic and descriptive metadata. POP's Flickr feed has images of provenance evidence organized by library.
LEARNING EARLY MODERN PALEOGRAPHY
Paleography Tutorials (via Folgerpedia)
English Handwriting 1500-1700: An Online Course (COPIA, University of Cambridge)
Reading Old Handwriting 1500-1800: A Practical Online Tutorial (The National Archives)
Tools to study the language, makers, geographies, social networks, &c, of early modern plays.
Oxford English Dictionary (OED) [PSU login required] — Subscription only. "The definitive record of the English language." Provides the meanings, pronunciations, histories, and shifting usages of more than 600,000 words from across the English-speaking world. Early modern plays are often cited to demonstrate usage.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB) [PSU login required] — Subscription repository of concise biographies of the people "who have shaped British history and culture, worldwide, from the Romans to the 21st century." Includes entries on many of those involved in the theatrical production and publication of early modern plays.
Lexicons of Early Modern English (LEME) (University of Toronto) — Open-access database of word-entries from a range of early modern reference works: monolingual English dictionaries, bilingual lexicons, technical vocabularies, and other encyclopedic-lexical works.
Map of Early Modern London (MoEML) (UVic) — Multi-faceted digital project aimed at "map[ping] the spatial imaginary of Shakespeare’s city." Includes a digital edition of the 1561 Agas woodcut map of London; an encyclopedia of key people, places, topics, and terms; an edition of John Stow's Survey of London; and a collection of annotated early modern texts "rich in London toponyms."
Six Degrees of Francis Bacon — A collaborative site aimed at reconstructing and visualizing early modern social networks.
The Holinshed Project — Supporting site for the forthcoming multi-volume edition of Holinshed's Chronicles, a major source text for many early modern playwrights. Includes a range of contextual materials, including some excerpts relating to Shakespeare's plays.
World Shakespeare Bibliography (Folger) — Subscription-based searchable database of records for Shakespeare-related scholarship and theatrical productions published or produced worldwide from 1960 to the present.
Women in Book History (Cait Coker & Kate Ozment) (TAMU) — A growing, searchable, and open-access bibliography of secondary sources on women’s writing and participation in the book trades, with particular emphasis on the period 1500 to 1800.
General catalogues of early printed books, as well as those of specific libraries with remarkable sixteenth- and seventeenth-century drama holdings.
CATALOGUES FOR COLLECTIONS WITH STRONG EARLY MODERN DRAMA HOLDINGS
Folger Shakespeare Library (Hamnet)
Harry Ransom Center (University of Texas, Austin)
National Art Library (V&A Museum)
BLOGS & PODCASTS
Blogs & podcasts with content about issues relating to the texts, performances, &/or the remediation of early modern plays.
The Collation (Folger)
Anchora (Adam G. Hooks)
Wynken de Worde (Sarah Werner)
dispositio (Holger Schott Syme)
asidenotes (Eoin Price)
Wine Dark Sea (Jonathan Hope, Michael Witmore, et al.)
The Bookfish (Steve Mentz)
The Bardathon (Peter Kirwan)
Vade Mecum (Andrew S. Keener)
Digital Shakespeares (Erin Sullivan)
Early Modern Theatre (Ollie Jones)
James Loxley's Digital Footprint (James Loxley)
Henslowe's Diary ... as a Blog! (David Nicol)
Approaching Shakespeare Podcasts (Oxford) (Emma Smith)
Not Shakespeare: Elizabethan and Jacobean Popular Theatre Podcasts (Oxford) (Emma Smith)
BODcasts (Bodleian Library, Oxford)
Center for the Study of the Book Podcasts (Bodleian Library, Oxford) (Adam Smyth et al)
Shakespeare Unlimited Podcast (Folger)
Bard Times Podcast (Cat Clifford & Yoli Wassersug)
Theatre History Podcast (HowlRound) (Michael Lueger)