Shakespeare Documented is the largest and most authoritative collection of primary-source materials documenting the life of William Shakespeare (1564-1616), bringing together all known manuscript and print references to Shakespeare, his works, and additional references to his family, in his lifetime and shortly thereafter. Nearly 500 references, found in roughly 400 print and manuscript documents, provide a rich portrait of Shakespeare as a professional playwright, actor, poet, business man, and family man who lived in both London and Stratford-upon-Avon. These documents trace Shakespeare’s path to becoming a household name, from the earliest reference to his father in Stratford-upon-Avon, a bustling market town in Warwickshire, in 1552, to the publication of his collected plays, now known as the “First Folio,” in 1623, to the earliest gossipy references to Shakespeare in the following decades.
On this site you will find images, descriptions, and transcriptions of:
- 103 manuscripts that refer to William Shakespeare by name in his lifetime (spelled in many different ways, which was typical of the period), including four manuscripts signed by him, and one letter addressed to him
- 89 printed books and manuscripts from Shakespeare’s lifetime that mention or quote his plays or poems, or that refer to him directly or indirectly as a writer
- 34 Stationers’ Register entries for Shakespeare’s plays and poems, up to and including the First Folio (1623), five of which name him as author
- 84 printed editions of Shakespeare’s plays and poems, up to and including the First Folio (1623), 62 of which include his name on the title-page or dedicatory leaf
- More than 100 documents that refer to other members of Shakespeare’s family, including references to Shakespeare’s coat of arms
The Shakespeare Documented website can be found at: http://www.shakespearedocumented.org.