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The Library Springfield-Greene County Library District Springfield, Missouri
Books & Authors

William Shakespeare (April 23, 1564 - April 23, 1616)

Considered by many to be the greatest, most influential writer in the history of the English language, William Shakespeare is believed to have produced 37 plays, 154 sonnets, and 2 long-form narrative poems in just 52 short years--a written legacy remarkable for its linguistic beauty, sharp wit, complex characters, and deep emotional intelligence. Add to that literary reputation the unanswered questions and tantalizing gaps in the historical record of the author's own life, and it's little wonder he and his words still stir the imagination and resonate so strongly with readers nearly four hundred years after his death.

Why not take the opportunity on this dual anniversary of Shakespeare's entrance and exit to celebrate that legacy? Whether you're looking to get aquainted with, brush up on, or even channel the Bard of Stratford-upon-Avon, the Library has a wealth of resources to help.

Here are some ideas to get you started!


Learn a little about the man himself.

"William Shakespeare"* from the Encyclopedia of World Biography


Or learn a lot.


Shakespeare: The Biography by Peter Ackroyd




Shakespeare / In Search of Shakespeare by Michael Wood / from the BBC




Read a Shakespeare play or retelling.


The Globe Illustrated Shakespeare: The Complete Works Annotated edited by Howard Staunton 




Shakespeare: Complete Works edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen




Or watch one--or one you may not have realized was one.


10 Things I Hate About You (The Taming of the Shrew)





O (Othello)





She's the Man (Twelfth Night)





Throne of Blood (Macbeth)





West Side Story (Romeo and Juliet)





Woo your sweetheart with one of the poet's timeless, romantic sonnets.

Sonnet 116* or Sonnet 18*


The Sonnets by William Shakespeare, illustrated by Charles Robinson




Shakespeare on Love: Quotations from the Plays and Poems compiled by George Weinberg




Or wow them with one of your own.

"English (or Shakespearean) sonnet"* definition from Columbia Granger's World of Poetry


The Art of the Sonnet by Stephen Burt and David Mikics




The Ode Less Travelled: Unlocking the Poet Within by Stephen Fry




Impress friends and family with your use of the Bard's barbs in everyday conversation.


Shakespeare's Insults: Educating Your Wit by Wayne F. Hill and Cynthia J. Ottchen




Delve into the contentious Shakespeare authorship debate.


Who Wrote Shakespeare's Plays? by William D. Rubinstein




Much Ado About Something from PBS's Frontline





Explore Elizabethan life and culture while listening to some period music.


Have fun! And don't fret if you find yourself speaking in iambic pentameter*.


* Library card required for use outside the Library

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