Welcome to Shakespeare's Bookshelf. This website and forthcoming book originated from a simple question: How did Shakespeare write what he wrote? This led to months of research and study of his plays as well as the works which were the sources and influences for his plays. The picture and reality that emerged was a fascinating one, and one which showed Shakespeare as a living, working playwright, actor, and theater-owner.
The often vague image of a "creative genius" changed to one of a particularly gifted person living and working in 16th century England, in London and elsewhere. Shakespeare adapted almost all of the characters and stories of his plays from existing sources. That is not to say that such a feat is an easy one. That he did so meant that the people of his time had a robust and thriving Theater for their time. The important thing is that Shakespeare was a real man. He owned a house, he owned and managed The Globe Theatre after working for years as an Actor as part of The King's Men acting troupe.
Since Shakespeare adapted his works from other books, from history books to collections of stories and novellas, we can visualize that Shakespeare owned books. And for books, you need a bookshelf, sometimes many. Yet for the works that we know Shakespeare drew from, we know that such books can fit into a single bookshelf. It's a bit refreshing to realize that a good collection of books does not need to take up much space.
We will study the works available to Shakespeare and his contemporaries. We will see how they drew from Ancient and Modern texts to create the beginning of the Modern English Theater.