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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Shakespeare Studies: Home

Shakespeare 2Welcome to the Literatures and Languages Library's Guide to William Shakespeare

In this guide, you will discover Shakespeare's major works and important productions of his plays; journals and online resources; and databases and other electronic resources to assist you as you learn more about the Bard of Avon. Have a question or need addition assistance? Feel free to contact Literatures and Languages Library.

Literatures and Languages Library

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Literatures and Languages Library
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Rare Books and Manuscripts Library

Illinois Library

The Rare Book and Manuscript Library here at the University of Illinois holds many of Shakespeare's works, including a first folio, quartos, work of his contemporaries, performance records, and more. You can view these materials in the RBML, but you must first register and then request them for use. 

Need Help with Shakespeare's Language? Try the Oxford English Dictionary!

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is widely regarded as the accepted authority on the English language. It is an unsurpassed guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of 600,000 words— past and present—from across the English-speaking world.

As a historical dictionary, the OED is very different from dictionaries of current English, in which the focus is on present-day meanings. You’ll still find present-day meanings in the OED, but you’ll also find the history of individual words, and of the language—traced through 3 million quotations, from classic literature and specialist periodicals to film scripts and cookery books.

The OED started life more than 150 years ago. Today, the dictionary is in the process of its first major revision. Updates revise and extend the OED at regular intervals, each time subtly adjusting our image of the English language. 

The OED inlcudes: 

  • OED Labs – Our goal is to further develop the OED’s offering to actively support the needs of academic research as they evolve in the coming years. Take a look at new ways to access OED data, including the OED Researcher API and the OED Text Visualizer.
  • Video guides: Take a look at our short guides to help you get the most out of your OED access.
  • Interactive graphic: Whether by sudden invention or unhurried evolution, words come into the English language in all manner of ways. The Oxford English Dictionary’s mission is to record all of these word stories, capturing their development as they continue to unfold.

Search the OED

To look up a word in the Oxford English Dictionary, simply type the work into the "Quick Search" bar.



To perform and more comprehensive search, do an advanced search, which you can access by clicking the link of the same name. Here, you can search specifically by subject, language of origin, region, part of speech, usage, and date of entry. You can also search using quotations and definitions. 


When you search for a word, you'll see one of two pages. If the word has multiple usages, like a noun or a verb, the OED will direct you to choose which one you're specifically looking for. After that, you'll see a page that looks similar to this: 

OED Result

The OED will tell you everything you want to know, from the origin of the word, its etymology, and its meanings and uses throughout history. 

Ask a A Librarian

Key Resources



The New Oxford Shakespeare: Modern Critical Edition contains new, modern spelling editions for each of Shakespeare's plays, all of which were edited from the original text. In addition, detailed introductions for each play as well as extensive on-page notes are provided for further understanding.



The New Oxford Shakespeare: Critical Reference Edition provides easy access to Shakespeare's works in their original spelling. It is made up of two volumes. The first contains Shakespeare's works published during his lifetime; the second gives access to the works published after his death. 



The New Oxford Shakespeare: Authorship Companion explores the question of authorship in regard to Shakespeare's works, containing essays and articles regarding collaboration between Shakespeare and other playwrights in specific texts.



Oxford Companion to Shakespeare


The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare provides a lucid, stimulating, and authoritative guide to Shakespeare's plays and poems, and their interpretation around the world over the last four centuries. Special feature entries on every play are included. 

Shakespeare's Globe on Screen

Stream the Globe's Productions of Shakespeare

Print Resources