This encyclopaedia-style Dictionary is a comprehensive reference guide to Shakespeare's literary knowledge and recent scholarship on it. Nearly 200 entries cover the full range of literary writing Shakespeare was acquainted with, and which influenced his own work, including classical, historical, religious and contemporary works. It provides an overview of his use of authors such as Virgil, Chaucer, Erasmus, Marlowe and Samuel Daniel, whose influence is across the canon. Other entries cover anonymous or collective works such as the Bible, Emblems, Homilies, Chronicle History plays and the Morality tradition in drama. Entries cover writers and works whose importance to Shakespeare has emerged more clearly in recent years thanks to new research. Others describe and explain current thinking on long-recognized sources as Plutarch, Ovid, Holinshed, Ariosto and Montaigne. Entries for all major sources, over 80 in number, feature surveys of the writer's place in Shakespeare's time, detailed dicussion of the relationship to Shakespeare's plays and poems, and full bibliography.
Sample passages from writers and texts of early modern England allow the volume to be used also as a reader in the literature commonly known in Shakespeare's era; these excerpts, together with reproductions of pages and illustrations from the original texts, convey something of the flavour of the material as Shakespeare would have encountered it.
Stuart Gillespie is Reader in English Literature at the University of Glasgow, and editor of the journal Translation and Literature.