100 books like Digital Humanities and the Lost Drama of Early Modern England

By Matthew Steggle,

Here are 100 books that Digital Humanities and the Lost Drama of Early Modern England fans have personally recommended if you like Digital Humanities and the Lost Drama of Early Modern England. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Private Life of William Shakespeare

Carole Levin Author Of The Reign and Life of Queen Elizabeth I: Politics, Culture, and Society

From my list on to enjoy Shakespeare in the twenty-first century.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated with Queen Elizabeth I and Shakespeare since I was a child and read a kid biography of the queen and saw a Shakespearean comedy. The two topics are completely intertwined—Elizabeth saw Shakespeare’s plays at court and the strong women in Shakespeare’s plays reflect the queen. Elizabeth and Shakespeare have been both my passion and my profession. I have loved teaching and writing about them. One of my favorite things to do is to go see Shakespeare plays and to see portraits of the queen at museums. This passion has so enriched my life. The queen and the playwright have been very good to me. 

Carole's book list on to enjoy Shakespeare in the twenty-first century

Carole Levin Why did Carole love this book?

Gorgeously illustrated and elegantly written, Lena Orlin’s new study of William Shakespeare shows her great skill at doing research to give us new ways to understand the playwright. She puts the evidence of his life within the context of other Elizabethan documents. Orlin proves that we can know more about Shakespeare by examining the lives of the people in his circles. As she tells us, this is neither a literary biography nor a full biography, but it is a book that follows the evidence to tell us much more about Shakespeare the man. Shakespeare cared deeply about his father and his marriage to Anne was much less contentious and a more pleasant partnership. Though there have been so many books about Shakespeare, Orlin helps us understand him beyond the myths. Her brilliant and thorough reading of documents presents a wonderful read.

By Lena Cowen Orlin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Private Life of William Shakespeare as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A new biography of William Shakespeare that explores his private life in Stratford-upon-Avon, his personal aspirations, his self-determination, and his relations with the members of his family and his neighbours.

The Private Life of William Shakespeare tells the story of Shakespeare in Stratford as a family man. The book offers close readings of key documents associated with Shakespeare and develops a contextual understanding of the genres from which these documents emerge. It reconsiders clusters of evidence that have been held to prove some persistent biographical fables. It also shows how the histories of some of Shakespeare's neighbours illuminate aspects of…


Book cover of Lord Strange's Men and Their Plays

David McInnis Author Of Shakespeare and Lost Plays

From my list on to understand the history of Shakespeare's theatre.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Shakespeare scholar with a particular interest in theatre history and the repertories of the London commercial playing companies of the late-sixteenth and early-seventeenth centuries. I’m particularly fascinated by the hundreds of plays written during this period that have not survived, whether as the result of fire, vandalism, censorship, or more mundane causes like a lack of interest in or opportunity for publication. The surviving plays from the period are the distinct minority; yet the plays lost to us were known to Shakespeare and his contemporaries, who often wrote in response to what else was being performed across London.

David's book list on to understand the history of Shakespeare's theatre

David McInnis Why did David love this book?

In the wake of Knutson’s work, a number of seminal studies of individual playing companies from Shakespeare’s London have appeared, but I particularly value Manley and MacLean’s for the prominence they give to the role of lost plays in the repertory of Lord Strange’s Men. This book normalised the understanding that if one is to study a companyits patron, its players, its performance venues (including touring), and its stylethen one cannot do so without attending to the plays once performed by the company but which have since been lost.

By Lawrence Manley, Sally-Beth MacLean,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lord Strange's Men and Their Plays as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For a brief period in the late Elizabethan Era an innovative company of players dominated the London stage. A fellowship of dedicated thespians, Lord Strange's Men established their reputation by concentrating on "modern matter" performed in a spectacular style, exploring new modes of impersonation, and deliberately courting controversy. Supported by their equally controversial patron, theater connoisseur and potential claimant to the English throne Ferdinando Stanley, the company included Edward Alleyn, considered the greatest actor of the age, as well as George Bryan, Thomas Pope, Augustine Phillips, William Kemp, and John Hemings, who later joined William Shakespeare and Richard Burbage in…


Book cover of What Is a Playhouse? England at Play, 1520-1620

David McInnis Author Of Shakespeare and Lost Plays

From my list on to understand the history of Shakespeare's theatre.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Shakespeare scholar with a particular interest in theatre history and the repertories of the London commercial playing companies of the late-sixteenth and early-seventeenth centuries. I’m particularly fascinated by the hundreds of plays written during this period that have not survived, whether as the result of fire, vandalism, censorship, or more mundane causes like a lack of interest in or opportunity for publication. The surviving plays from the period are the distinct minority; yet the plays lost to us were known to Shakespeare and his contemporaries, who often wrote in response to what else was being performed across London.

David's book list on to understand the history of Shakespeare's theatre

David McInnis Why did David love this book?

Some of the most exciting discoveries in theatre history in recent years have been archaeological, not archival: the excavation of the Curtain theatre’s foundations in Shoreditch, for example, and the revelation that it was rectangular and much larger than previously thought. Davies’ new book capitalises on a series of such findings and complements them with his own rigorous archival work, putting pressure on the very concept of a ‘playhouse’ and what it can beor rather, what it meant to Shakespeare’s audiences.

By Callan Davies,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked What Is a Playhouse? England at Play, 1520-1620 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book offers an accessible introduction to England's sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century playing industry and a fresh account of the architecture, multiple uses, communities, crowds, and proprietors of playhouses.

It builds on recent scholarship and new documentary and archaeological discoveries to answer the questions: what did playhouses do, what did they look like, and how did they function? The book will accordingly introduce readers to a rich and exciting spectrum of "play" and playhouses, not only in London but also around England. The detailed but wide-ranging case studies examined here go beyond staged drama to explore early modern sport, gambling,…


Book cover of The Repertory of Shakespeare's Company, 1594-1613

David McInnis Author Of Shakespeare and Lost Plays

From my list on to understand the history of Shakespeare's theatre.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Shakespeare scholar with a particular interest in theatre history and the repertories of the London commercial playing companies of the late-sixteenth and early-seventeenth centuries. I’m particularly fascinated by the hundreds of plays written during this period that have not survived, whether as the result of fire, vandalism, censorship, or more mundane causes like a lack of interest in or opportunity for publication. The surviving plays from the period are the distinct minority; yet the plays lost to us were known to Shakespeare and his contemporaries, who often wrote in response to what else was being performed across London.

David's book list on to understand the history of Shakespeare's theatre

David McInnis Why did David love this book?

This is the book that inaugurated a whole field of Shakespeare studies—repertory studies—that focuses on the commercial concerns of the London playing companies, treating plays as commodities used by companies to make money, and examining the strategies used by companies to remain competitive in the theatrical marketplace. Knutson’s work de-emphasises the significance of playwrights and focuses instead on playing companies.

By Roslyn Lander Knutson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Repertory of Shakespeare's Company, 1594-1613 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Most modern scholars regard William Shakespeare and his repertory company as the pre-eminent theatre group of its day; Roslyn Lander Knutson contends that they were also practical entrepreneurs who both shaped and responded to current theatrical tastes and whose playhouse practices closely paralleled those of their competitors. In ""The Repertory of Shakespeare's Company"" Knutson demystifies Shakespeare and his company by providing a clear vision of the dynamics of play production and play-going in Shakespeare's England, taking Shakespeare and his company down from their lofty pedestal where Victorian scholars placed them. She argues that Shakespeare and his company should not be…


Book cover of This Is Shakespeare

Tom Fletcher Author Of Ten Survival Skills for a World in Flux

From my list on navigating an unstable world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a recovering ambassador, now running an Oxford college. After almost 25 years in diplomacy, including working in no 10 for three prime ministers, I realised that education is upstream diplomacy. If we are to find a way through the challenges ahead – from climate change to pandemics and economic crisis to artificial intelligence – we must act, urgently, to upgrade why, what, and how we learn. I set out to ask hundreds of the most inspirational people on the planet what they wished they had known, and what they would share with the next generation if this was their last day. 

Tom's book list on navigating an unstable world

Tom Fletcher Why did Tom love this book?

A book of immense humanity and authenticity, which reminds us of how the great themes of great literature and art can offer solace and guidance in moments of fragility. By helping us go back to Shakespeare with less insecurity or baggage, the book opens up new perspectives on how others have grappled with these questions about how to be human. And it reminds us that we are allowed to question, challenge, and have fun.

By Emma Smith,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked This Is Shakespeare as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A THE TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR 2019

'The best introduction to the plays I've read, perhaps the best book on Shakespeare, full stop' Alex Preston, Observer

'It makes you impatient to see or re-read the plays at once' Hilary Mantel

A genius and prophet whose timeless works encapsulate the human condition like no others. A writer who surpassed his contemporaries in vision, originality and literary mastery. Who wrote like an angel, putting it all so much better than anyone else.
Is this Shakespeare? Well, sort of.

But it doesn't really tell us the whole truth. So much of what…


Book cover of William Shakespeare: The Complete Works

Sylvia Vetta Author Of Sculpting the Elephant

From my list on mixed relationships.

Why am I passionate about this?

I married Indian born Atam Vetta when mixed relationships were rare and viewed with hostility not just in the UK. In 1966, they were illegal in South Africa and in most Southern States of the USA (until Loving v Virginia). In India they are not illegal but many upper-caste Indians do not approve of marriage outside of caste. In the UK attitudes have revolutionised. Mixed relationships are no longer rare and it is predicted that by 2075 the majority of the population will be of mixed ancestry. There are mixed relationships in all three of my novels. My aim was to explore what we have in common whilst being honest about the challenges. The ultimate prize is an enhanced understanding and the creativity that comes with crossing cultures.

Sylvia's book list on mixed relationships

Sylvia Vetta Why did Sylvia love this book?

Shakespeare’s tragedies resonate in most cultures because they address the human condition. That is why Romeo and Juliet have spawned West Side Story, many films, and Russian ballets. I personally organised the Joe and Zara workshop with a mixed group of teenagers working on a modern take on the story. The young people in this ten-minute video from the workshop are impressive. 

Othello too is tragic. Othello describes how Desdemona would come again ‘greedy –to hear tales of adventure sorrow and suffering. ‘She loved me for the dangers I had passed and I loved her that she did pity them.’ I relate to that.

By William Shakespeare,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked William Shakespeare as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The second Oxford edition of Shakespeare's Complete Works reconsiders every detail of their text and presentation in the light of modern scholarship. The nature and authority of the early documents are re-examined, and the canon and chronological order of composition freshly established. Spelling and punctuation are modernized, and there is a brief introduction to each work, as well as an illuminating and informative General Introduction. Included here for the first
time is the play The Reign of King Edward the Third as well as the full text of Sir Thomas More. This new edition also features an essay on Shakespeare's…


Book cover of Man and Superman

Armin Shimerman Author Of Imbalance of Power

From my list on Shakespeare and the Elizabethan period.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a classically trained Shakespearian actor who has spent a lifetime researching Tudor and Stuart times, imbibing their language, customs, and idiosyncrasies. As an actor, I'm trained to get inside my characters' heads and dedicate myself to their intentions. Also, as an actor, I've come to relish language and recognize what makes a good phrase, paragraph, and/or book. I not only perform the Bard, but I've also taught his rhetorical stylings to countless people. I love language and admire writers who use it elegantly. They say, "Write what you know." I know Shakespeare and the Elizabethan era inside and out. One's life can be changed by a book; the ones I've recommended have changed mine.

Armin's book list on Shakespeare and the Elizabethan period

Armin Shimerman Why did Armin love this book?

Shaw believed he was a better writer than Shakespeare, and I think he may be right in this play. His wit and language combine to inform and entertain. Cleverness and iconoclasm abound. You can't help but revel in Shaw's pin-pricking of cherished beliefs. In response, we are forced to reevaluate customs and standards. If you want intellectual fun, this play is for you.

By George Bernard Shaw, Dan Laurence (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Man and Superman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shaw began writing MAN AND SUPERMAN in 1901 and determined to write a play that would encapsulate the new century's intellectual inheritance. Shaw drew not only on Byron's verse satire, but also on Shakespeare, the Victorian comedy fashionable in his early life, and from authors from Conan Doyle to Kipling. In this powerful drama of ideas, Shaw explores the role of the artist, the function of women in society, and his theory of Creative Evolution.
As Stanley Weintraub says in his new introduction, this is "the first great twentieth-century English play" and remains a classic expose of the eternal struggle…


Book cover of Renaissance Drama by Women: Texts and Documents

Alison Findlay Author Of Love's Victory: By Lady Mary Wroth

From my list on women playwrights in Shakespeare’s day.

Why am I passionate about this?

Most people have not heard of a female playwright before Aphra Behn so I’ve been passionate about restoring the work of Shakespeare’s ‘sisters’, or female contemporaries, to the stage and to public awareness. Early play scripts by women are often dismissed as ‘closet drama’: unperformed, not written for performance, and unperformable. To challenge such assumptions, I staged productions of female-authored plays, most recently Wroth’s Love’s Victory. A good deal of writing about women’s drama now exists, including my book Playing Spaces. I have made this selection to encourage you to discover the plays for yourselves. I hope you enjoy reading, and perhaps watching or acting, them.

Alison's book list on women playwrights in Shakespeare’s day

Alison Findlay Why did Alison love this book?

This book gives an excellent introduction to women’s involvement in theatre in the age of Shakespeare by making 6 of their texts easily available for the first time.

It publishes Queen Elizabeth I’s translation of a section by Seneca; The Tragedy of Antony (1595), a translation of a French play about Antony and Cleopatra by Mary Sidney Herbert, (aunt to Lady Mary Wroth).

It also publishes three original plays by women: Elizabeth Cary’s The Tragedy of Mariam (1613), The Concealed Fancies (1645), by the sisters Elizabeth Brackley and Jane Cavendish, and a valuable edition of Love’s Victory (but in a short section on p. 122 misprints the order of pages in the manuscript).

Cupid’s Banishment (1619) by Robert White is an entertainment, written to be performed by schoolgirls

By S.P. Cerasano (editor), Marion Wynne-Davies (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Renaissance Drama by Women as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Renaissance Drama By Women is a unique volume of plays and documents. For the first time, it demonstrates the wide range of theatrical activity in which women were involved during the Renaissance period. It includes full-length plays, a translated fragment by Queen Elizabeth I, a masque, and a substantial number of historical documents. With full and up-to-date accompanying critical material, this collection of texts is an exciting and invaluable resource for use in both the classroom and research.
Special features introduced by the editors include:
* introductory material to each play
* modernized spellings
* extensive notes and annotations
*…


Book cover of Kingship, Madness, and Masculinity on the Early Modern Stage: Mad World, Mad Kings

Carole Levin Author Of The Reign and Life of Queen Elizabeth I: Politics, Culture, and Society

From my list on to enjoy Shakespeare in the twenty-first century.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been fascinated with Queen Elizabeth I and Shakespeare since I was a child and read a kid biography of the queen and saw a Shakespearean comedy. The two topics are completely intertwined—Elizabeth saw Shakespeare’s plays at court and the strong women in Shakespeare’s plays reflect the queen. Elizabeth and Shakespeare have been both my passion and my profession. I have loved teaching and writing about them. One of my favorite things to do is to go see Shakespeare plays and to see portraits of the queen at museums. This passion has so enriched my life. The queen and the playwright have been very good to me. 

Carole's book list on to enjoy Shakespeare in the twenty-first century

Carole Levin Why did Carole love this book?

Today concerns over madness and disability are very much with us, especially if they connect with issues of power and masculinity. This was also true in the age of Shakespeare. Christina Gutierrez-Dennehy’s collection of essays on the topic of mad kings on the Renaissance stage is very readable and interesting, and tie in with contemporary issues. The book is divided into three sections: distracted kingship, fractured masculinity, and performed madness. The plays under discussion include Shakespeare’s King Lear, Hamlet, Macbeth, Richard III, Henry VI, and All’s Well That Ends Well. Gutierrez-Dennehy brilliantly and explicitly brings the topics raised in the collection into the twenty-first century

By Christina Gutierrez-Dennehy (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kingship, Madness, and Masculinity on the Early Modern Stage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book provides a fascinating study into the history of kingship, madness and masculinity that was acted out on the early modern stage. Providing students of early modern history, theatre and performance studies and disability studies with interesting case studies to inform their upper level seminars and research.

Throughout the volume the authors engage with the field of disability studies to show how disability and mental health were portrayed and what that tells us about the period and the people who lived in it. Showing students, a new dimension of early modern Europe.

The chapters uncover how, as the early…


Book cover of Shakespeare, the Queen's Men, and the Elizabethan Performance of History

Amy Lidster Author Of Publishing the History Play in the Time of Shakespeare: Stationers Shaping a Genre

From my list on Shakespeare and history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Lecturer in English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford, where I specialize in early modern drama (including Shakespeare) and book history. Since my undergraduate degree, I have been fascinated by historical drama, poetry, prose, and the often-porous boundary between ’truth’ and fiction during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Most of my research–including a major project on ‘Wartime Shakespeare’ that produced two books and a public exhibition at The National Army Museum in London–explores the profound impact of the stories we tell about the past and what they reveal about concerns and interests in the present. 

Amy's book list on Shakespeare and history

Amy Lidster Why did Amy love this book?

I love this book because it spotlights performance contexts and conditions–what it means to stage history during the Elizabethan period–and, through this focus, provides fresh, nuanced interpretations of the plays it considers, including some by Shakespeare and others performed by Queen Elizabeth’s Men.

It is another formative book for me, especially because it negotiates ideas and representations of ‘truth’ in historical drama. Walsh’s book offers a compelling account of the communal construction of history and the interplay between presence and absence, which has also helped me understand my own methods as a critic and historian.

By Brian Walsh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Shakespeare, the Queen's Men, and the Elizabethan Performance of History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Elizabethan history play was one of the most prevalent dramatic genres of the 1590s, and so was a major contribution to Elizabethan historical culture. The genre has been well served by critical studies that emphasize politics and ideology; however, there has been less interest in the way history is interrogated as an idea in these plays. Drawing in period-sensitive ways on the field of contemporary performance theory, this book looks at the Shakespearean history play from a fresh angle, by first analyzing the foundational work of the Queen's Men, the playing company that invented the popular history play. Through…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in drama, the Elizabethan era, and William Shakespeare?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about drama, the Elizabethan era, and William Shakespeare.

Drama Explore 75 books about drama
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William Shakespeare Explore 183 books about William Shakespeare