Renaissance/Early Modern Research Guide

This guide has been designed as a starting point for research involving the Renaissance and Early Modern time period.  If you need help, please contact Rebecca Dowson, Liaison Librarian: English Literature and History at 778.782.4304 or or Ask a librarian.

Another useful starting point is the book Literary research and the British Renaissance and early modern period : strategies and sources.


General Reference Chronologies
Primary Sources Electronic Text Archives
Biographical Information Literary Terms Images/Film Scholarly Gateways
Literary Criticism Literary Encyclopedias/Companions History  
Quotations Renaissance Theatre Religion & Reformation  


General Reference

Oxford English Dictionary  The OED covers words from across the English speaking world. It also gives etymological analysis, variant spellings, and pronunciation using IPA.
Literary Encyclopedia  The Literary Encyclopedia is an expanding global literary reference work written by over 2000 specialists from universities around the world, and currently provides more than 5100 authoritative profiles of authors, works and literary and historical topics and grows by over 90 articles per month.
LEME: Lexicons of Early Modern English  LEME searches and displays word-entries from monolingual English dictionaries, bilingual lexicons, technical vocabularies, and other encyclopedic-lexical works, 1480-1702
Oxford Reference Online  Online versions of 100 general reference works plus material in language, science and medicine, humanities and social sciences, business, and professional areas.
Encyclopedia Britannica   An all-purpose online encyclopedia, including an online atlas, dictionary, and select journal articles.
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Biographical Information

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography   An illustrated collection of 50,000 specially written biographies of the men and women who shaped all aspects of Britain's past, from the fourth century BC to the year 2000.

Dictionary of Literary Biography Complete Online Biographical and critical essays on the lives, works, and careers of the world's most influential literary figures from all eras and genres.
Orlando: Women's Writing in the British Isles  Orlando includes biographical and writing career entries on over a thousand writers, more than eight hundred and fifty of them British women. It also includes selected non-British or international women writers, and British and international men, whose writing was an important, sometimes a shaping, element in a particular writing climate. Orlando also includes more than thirty thousand dated items representing events and processes.
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Literary  Criticism

MLA International Bibliography  Contains scholarly articles on English literature, linguistics, language and folklore.
Literature Online A searchable library of more than 350,000 works of English and American poetry, drama and prose, 328 full-text literature journals, and other key criticism and reference resources.
Iter: Gateway to the Middle Ages and Renaissance  Index to Medieval and Renaissance journals and books.
Shakespeare Survey Online All issues of the Shakespeare Survey, a yearly publication since 1948 which publishes the best of international Shakespeare scholarship.
World Shakespeare Bibliography  Annotated entries for all important books, articles, book reviews, dissertations, theatrical productions, reviews of productions, audiovisual materials, electronic media, and other scholarly and popular materials related to Shakespeare and published or produced between 1964 and early 2005.
Oxford Bibliographies Online Online index to bibliographies in Renaissance and Reformation with a bibliographical essay on sources.
Literature Criticism Online  Full text access to six major Gale literary criticism series, covering literature from 1400 to the present.
Project MUSE Search  Fulltext access to the backfiles of Humanities and Social Science Journals. Good English Literature content.
JSTOR Fulltext access to the backfiles of Humanities and Social Science Journals. Good English Literature content.  Note:  content in JSTOR is 3-5 years old.
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Oxford Dictionary of Quotations 

Longman guide to Shakespeare quotations - Bennett Stacks PR 2892 G75  

Shakespeare's wordcraft - Bennett Stacks PR 3077 K35 2007 

Roget's thesaurus of the Bible - Bennett Reference  BS 432 D34 1992 

The Figurative language of the tragedies of Shakespeare's chief 16th-century contemporaries - Bennett Reference PR 658 T7 S78 

Open Source Shakespeare: Concordance of Shakespeare's Complete Works  (George Mason University)


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The Oxford chronology of English literature - Bennett Reference  PR 87 O95 2002

The Hutchinson chronology of world history

BBC History Timelines - Interactive timelines for topics in archeology, British history and the World Wars.

Handbook of British chronology - Bennett Reference DA 34 P6 1986 

A Milton chronology - Bennett Stacks PR 3583 C36 1997 

A Sidney chronology, 1554-1654 - Bennett Stacks PR 2343 B66 2003

A Christopher Marlowe chronology - Bennett Stacks PR 2673 H593 2005 

There is a very good chronology section in the database State Papers Online.  When you log in, choose "Research Tools" and then click on the Chronologies link.

Many of the companion handbooks also include a Chronology section - check the catalogue record of each companion to confirm the inclusion of a chronology/timeline section.


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Literary Terms

The Oxford dictionary of literary terms, 3rd ed.

The Penguin dictionary of literary terms and literary theory - Bennett Stacks  PN 41 C83 1999 

The Bedford glossary of critical and literary terms - Bennett Stacks PN 44.5 M86 2009

A glossary of contemporary literary theory - Bennett and Surrey Reference  PN 44.5 H37 2000

Shakespeare's language : a glossary of unfamiliar words in Shakespeare's plays and poems - Bennett Stacks PR 2892 S447 1996

Shakespeare's bawdy

Dictionary of literary-rhetorical conventions of the English Renaissance - Bennett Stacks PR 531 D6 

Classical myths and legends in the Middle Ages and Renaissance : a dictionary of allegorical meanings  - Bennett & Belzberg PN 669 B78 1998 


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Specific Encyclopedias/Companions - Literary

Key concepts in Renaissance literature - Bennett Stacks PR 411 H43 2008

Encyclopedia of Renaissance literature - Bennett Stacks PN 721 C66 2006

A new companion to English Renaissance literature and culture - Bennett Reference  PR 411 C663 2010

The Oxford handbook of Tudor literature, 1485-1603 - Bennett Stacks PR 413 O94 2009

A companion to Renaissance drama - Bennett Stacks PR 651 C66 2002 

The Blackwell companion to the Bible and English literature - Belzberg Library  PR 149 B5 2009

A companion to Shakespeare - Bennett Stacks  PR 2910 C66 1999

The new Cambridge companion to Shakespeare, 2nd ed. - Bennett Stacks  PR 2894 C33 2010

The Cambridge companion to Spenser - Bennett and Surrey Stacks PR 2364 C36 2001

Dictionary of literary and dramatic censorship in Tudor and Stuart England - Bennett Reference PR 411 A93 2001 

Classical and Christian Ideas in English Renaissance Poetry: A Students' Guide  PR 532 R5   or online

These are just a few of the subject specific dictionaries and encyclopedias available at SFU Library.  Search for more by including the words encyclopedia OR dictionary OR handbook OR companion OR manual in your KEYWORD search (e.g. Marlowe AND companion)

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Renaissance and Early Modern Theatre

English professional theatre, 1530-1660 - Bennett Stacks  PN 2589 E55 2000

English Renaissance theatre history : a reference guide - Bennett Stacks  PN 2589 Z972 

The English stage : a history of drama and performance - Bennett Stacks PN 2581 S89 1996

The Shakespearean stage 1574-1642 - Bennett Stacks PR 3095 G87 2009  (4th ed.)  Bennett & Surrey Stacks  PR 3095 G87 1992  (3rd ed.)

The Shakespeare Company, 1594-1642 - Bennett & Surrey Stacks  PR 3095 G86 2004  

Playgoing in Shakespeare's London - Bennett & Surrey Stacks PN 2596 L6 G87 2004 (3rd ed.) Bennett Stacks PN 2596 L6 G87 1996  (2nd ed.) Bennett Stacks PN 2596 L6 G87   (1st ed.)

The Shakespearian playing companies - Bennett Stacks PR 3095 G869 1996  and online

Staging in Shakespeare's theatres - Bennett Stacks PR 3095 G88 2000

The Elizabethan stage - Bennett Stacks  PN 2589 C4 (4 volumes, 2 copies of each volume)

Annals of English drama, 975-1700 - Bennett Reference & Bennett Stacks PR 1241 Z94 1964 

DEEP: Database of Early English Playbooks  DEEP is a database of early modern plays and playwrights with additional useful information, such as genre, dates of first publication and production.

Records of Early English Drama: Patrons and Performances Web Site  Designed to include a wide range of data about professional performers on tour in the provinces – their patrons, the performance venues they used and the routes they took across the kingdom.

Early Modern London Theatres This database provides an abstract record of the relationship between primary (pre -1642 sources) and secondary (post-1642) materials discussing plays, theatre audiences, lives of players and the theatre builings themselves that were built in and around London from 1567 to 1629.

Shakespeare's Globe The official Globe Theatre site


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Primary Sources

Early English Books Online (EEBO) Digital library of over 100,000 individual titles from 1473-1700. Online digital images are available for every page.
State Papers Online  An online resource for the study of Early Modern Britain and Europe. It reproduces original historical manuscripts in facsimile, linking each manuscript to its corresponding fully-searchable Calendar entry. Available parts include: Part I: The Tudors, 1509-1603: Domestic and Part II: The Tudors, 1509-1603: Foreign

British Literary Manuscripts: Part 2: British Literary Manuscripts Online: Medieval & Renaissance offers students and researchers unprecedented online access to 565,000 pages of rare manuscripts from the Medieval and Early Modern periods, c.1100 to 1660. Researchers and students can explore online a rich tapestry of letters, poems, stories, plays, chronicles, religious writings and commonplace books through searchable catalogue records.

Digital Scriptorium  Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts  (Columbia University)

The Map of Early Modern London (University of Victoria) The Map of Early Modern London maps the streets, sites, and significant boundaries of late sixteenth-century and early seventeenth-century London (1560-1640). Taking the "Agas" map as its platform, the project links encyclopedia-style articles, scholarly work, student work, editions, and literary texts to the places mentioned therein.
Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads The Bodleian Library has unparalleled holdings of over 30,000 ballads in several major collections. The original printed materials range from the 16th- to the 20th-Century. The Broadside Ballads project makes the digitised copies of the sheets and ballads available to the research community.

English Broadside Ballad Archive  Website dedicated to early ballads in English, especially 17th-century broadside ballads; provides full transcriptions and images of the originals, search facilities, sung versions of ballads, and background essays (Early Modern Center, University of California-Santa Barbara)

The Shakespeare Quartos Archive A digital collection of pre-1642 editions of William Shakespeare's plays.

Treasures in Full: Shakespeare in Quarto See 107 copies of the 21 plays by Shakespeare printed in quarto before the 1642 theatre closures. (British Library)

Internet Shakespeare Editions On this website, you will find one of the web's widest varieties of Shakespeare-related resources, including fully annotated texts of his plays and poems, exciting multimedia materials and records of his plays in performance, and thousands of searchable pages devoted to the history, arts, politics, society, and stage of Shakespeare's world, as well as biographical details of his life.  (University of Victoria)


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Historical dictionary of Renaissance art - Bennett Stacks  N 6370 Z57 2008
ARTstor  A repository of over one million digital images and related data.
Oxford Art Online  Reference resources on all aspects of visual arts. Sources include Grove Art Online, Oxford Companion to Western Art, Encyclopedia of Aesthetics & Concise Oxford Dictionary of Art Terms.
British Printed Images to 1700  British Printed Images to 1700 is a digital library of prints and book illustrations from early modern Britain. It also offers various resources aimed at furthering our knowledge and understanding of them.
The National Portrait Gallery The Gallery was founded in 1856 to collect portraits of famous British men and women. Explore over 160,000 portraits from the 16th Century to the present day.

Folger Digital Image Collection  The Folger's Digital Image Collection offers online access to over 40,000 images from the Folger Shakespeare Library collection, including books, theater memorabilia, manuscripts, art, and more.

Films on Demand (Canada): Humanities and Social Sciences  Streaming video of the Humanities and Social Sciences Collection of Films on Demand.  Licensed for non-theatrical public performance on campus at Simon Fraser University.
To search for sound recordings and performances available on video/DVD available at the SFU Library, search the SFU Catalogue for the title of the work, and limit to the appropriate material type, using the drop down menu to the right of the search box.
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Handbook of European history, 1400-1600 : late Middle Ages, Renaissance, and Reformation - Bennett Stacks D 203 H36 1994
Oxford Dictionary of the Renaissance - Bennett Reference CB 361 C27 2003 or online
Encyclopedia of the Renaissance - Bennett Reference CB 361 E52 1999
The Renaissance : a sourcebook - Bennett Stacks PR 411 R466 2009 
Routledge encyclopedia of Tudor England - Bennett 2 hour reserves DA 315 T755 2011
The Routledge companion to the Tudor age - Bennett stacks DA 315 O339 2010
English historical facts, 1485-1603 - Bennett Reference DA 315 P68
Historical dictionary of Tudor England, 1485-1603 - Bennett stacks DA 315 H5 1991
A survey of London by John Stow - Bennett Stacks DA 680 S87 1908 or online
Bibliography of British & Irish History  This bibliography is an authoritative guide to what has been written about British and Irish history from the Roman period to the present day.
Historical Abstracts  Indexes journal articles, book reviews, dissertations on the history of the world outside of Canada & the United States.
British History Online   Digital library containing some of the core printed primary and secondary sources for the medieval and modern history of the British Isles.
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The Oxford encyclopedia of the Reformation - Bennett & Belzberg Reference  BR 302.8 O93 1996 and online

The age of Reformation : the Tudor and Stewart realms, 1485-1603 - Bennett Stacks BR 375 R97 2009 

Renaissance and Reformation, 1500-1620 : a biographical dictionary - Bennett Reference  CT 759 R46 2001 and online

The Bible in English  A collection of 20 different versions of the English Bible from the tenth to the twentieth century, including 12 full Bibles, 5 New Testament texts, 2 versions of the Gospels only, and William Tyndale's translations of the Pentateuch, Jonah and the New Testament.

The Book of Common Prayer - 1559  HTML version of the 1559 edition of the Book of Common Prayer.  Includes background information and links to other resources.

Digital Library of Classic Protestant Texts More than 1,200 works from the Reformation and post-Reformation eras, including the theological writings of more than 300 Protestant authors, as well as confessional documents, biblical commentaries, polemical treatises, and Bible translations.

Digital Library of the Catholic Reformation  Includes over 450,000 pages of primary-source material from the 16th and 17th Centuries, including all the key catechisms, scholarly treatises, papal documents, devotional works, and theological volumes that sparked and sustained the reform from within the Catholic Church.

ATLAS Religion Database  Indexes journal articles on all aspects of religion and theology, including church and religious history. Contains some full text articles.

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Electroinc Text Archives

Early English Prose Fiction  More than 200 full text works which provide a representative view of prose fiction by writers from the British Isles from the period 1500-1700.

Project Gutenberg  Provides access to over 33,000 downloadable e-books.

Luminarium: Anthology of English Literature  Provides information on medieval, renaissance, 17th and 18th century authors, with the full text of selected works, and additional materials including biographical sketches, book reviews, essays, and graphics.

Renascence Editions  An online repository of works printed in English between the years 1477 and 1799.

Early Modern Literary Studies Electronic Texts  Gathering of links to select electronic texts of fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth century materials which are on the Internet, as well as others which have bearing upon this time period.

Oxford Text Archive  The Oxford Text Archive develops, collects, catalogues and preserves electronic literary and linguistic resources for use in Higher Education, in research, teaching and learning.

Electronic Text Center - Modern English Collection This heterogeneous collection contains fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, letters, newspapers, manuscripts and illustrations from 1500 to the present, arranged for browsing by author's last name or by category of interest.  (University of Virginia)

Perseus Digital Library Project - Renaissance Materials  Digital versions of primary and secondary sources in early modern English literature. (Tufts University)

Representative Poetry Online   Includes 3,162 English poems by 500 poets from Caedmon, in the Old English period, to the work of living poets today. It is based on Representative Poetry, established by Professor W. J. Alexander of University College, University of Toronto, in 191.

Spenser and the Tradition: English Poetry 1579-1830: A Gathering of Texts

Early Stuart Libels: An Edition of Poetry  Web-based edition of early seventeenth-century political poetry from manuscript sources. It brings into the public domain over 350 poems, many of which have never before been published.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare  The Web's first edition of the Complete Works of William Shakespeare. This site has offered Shakespeare's plays and poetry to the Internet community since 1993. (MIT)

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Scholarly Gateways

These resources provide extensive bibliographies and links to other useful online resources for the study of the Renaissance. 

Centre for Early Modern Studies

Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies

CERES, Cambridge English Renaissance Electronic Service

Voice of the Shuttle: Literature (In English)

Literary Resources -  Renaissance

Renaissance Sites and Elizabethan Resources

Early Modern Web

Shakespeare Studies: A guide for students and professors interested in the study of Shakespeare's life and works (NY University Library)

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