Shake-speare’s Hamlet: Biblio-graphy of Criticism

ANNOTATED Bibliography

This is a draft of a work in progress.  If you have significant contributions regarding the scholarship of this site, please contact the administrator, Carol Joan Haney McVey.  She can be reached at

Most items included in the bibliographies of Shakespeare editions.: Q1, Q2, and The Folio can all be accessed through the Folger Shakespeare Library and through online photo facsimiles at the following site: )

The following list includes recommended sources of textual and literary criticism.  Since  many celebrated works are generously and perfectly annotated elsewhere,  I am focusing at this time on those sources used for the essay on metaphysics and for commenting on various editions within this website.

Bibliography for further reading

Farley-Hills, David.  (John Manning and JoAnna Proctor co-edit Volume 4, Part I.) Proctor Critical Responses to Hamlet 1600-1790. The Hamlet Collection.  Volumes 1-IV.   New York:  AMS Press, 1997-?  This series is the most valuable resource for the scholar of Hamlet Studies.  The series cites the most important editions of Hamlet published from 1600 to 1900 as well as select criticism from the same time span.

Champion, Larry.  The Essential Shakespeare:  An Annotated Bibliography of Major Modern Studies.  1986, 1993.

Mooney, Michael E.  An Annotated Bibliography of Shakespeare Studies 1604-1998.  Ashville: University of North Carolina Press, Pegasus, 1999.

Raven, Adolph Anton.  A Hamlet BIBLIOGRAPHY AND REFERENCE GUIDE 1877-1935.  Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 1936.  Also, New York:  Russel & Russel, 1966.  This covers essential editions and criticism up to 1940.  Many listed primary and secondary sources are cited in German without translation.

The following represents additional sources for criticism. Many of these citations/annotatations are referenced in the “Marketing Metaphysics with Hamlet Bibliography.” 

Abbott., E.A., A Shakespearian Grammar, second edition.  1870.   The reference could provide a useful study for those interested the history of textual criticism, since the author notes that the book’s treatment of prosody will be especially interesting to “boys,” and one can infer he means young adolescent males, since women and minorities were generally excluded from studying and performing Shakespeare.  Preface available online.

Arber, Edward.  A Transcript of the Registers of the Company of Stationers of London, 1554-1640.  Five Volumes.  1870.

Bentley, G.EThe Profession of Player in Shakespeare’s Time 1590-1642.  Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 1984.  This work provides a great deal of detail about the theatre industry in Elizabethan and Jacobean England.  Since Hamlet is the “actor’s play” and so much of the play is about theatre and metatheatre, this book might help resolve some questions about line readings as appropriate for the Blackfriars, The King’s Men, and Lord Chamberlain’s men to discern if the meanings are lost with modern editions.

Bevington, David.  Murder Most Foul:  Hamlet Through the Ages.  Oxford:  Oxford University Press 2011.  This book provides excellent discussion on the sources for Shakespeare’s Hamlet, theatre history, and chapters dedicated to the 17th, 18th, 19th and postmodern centuries.  A clean, concise, fascinating read.

Blayney, PeterThe First Folio of Shakespeare.  Hanover, Md.: Folger Shakespeare Library, 1991.  An analysis of printing mechanics and business economics involved in publishing the first Folio. Includes an illustration of the Folger exhibition of 1991 that related to this subject.

Bloom, HaroldHamlet, Poem Unlimited.   Hamlet, Poem Unlimited.  New York: Riverhead Books, Penguin Putnam, 2003.  The chapters titled “Plays Within Plays Within Plays” and “Two Soliloquys” offer the insight of a genius critic.  This is a biographical best-seller along with Greenblatt’s Will in the World.

Bloom, Harold.  Shakespeare:  The Invention of the Human.  (A New York Times Bestseller) New York:  Riverhead Books, 1998.  Another best-seller by Bloom.  More biographical “new historicism” that can be compared with Greenblatt’s Hamnet and The Making of Hamlet.  Both scholars examine the psychological impact of grief in the writing life of William Shakespeare as applied to the writing of Hamlet.

Bowers, Fredson.   Fredson introduced the idea of disparate texts derived from players in rehearsal and in performance.   His well-known essay on Hamlet as minister and scourge in a necessary act of revenge is a classic in literary and textual criticism.  “Bowers was a graduate of Brown University and Harvard University (Ph.D.). He taught at Princeton University before moving to the University of Virginia in 1938.  Bowers served as a commander in the United States Navy during World War II leading a group of codebreakers… His works include On Editing Shakespeare and the Elizabethan Dramatists 1955 Textual & literary criticism, 1959 Hamlet; an outline-guide to the play, 1965 Hamlet as Minister and Scourge and other studies in Shakespeare and Milton, 1989.  See also Tanselle, G. Thomas’s biography and bibliiography. (1993)”  He became teacher to Charlton Hinman who expanded his Bowers work on the theory of disparate compositors working in the print shops of Elizabethan and Jacobean England.

Bright, Timothy BrightA Treatise of Melancholy.  1586.  Facsimile reprint New York. 1969.

Brook, G. The Language of Shakespeare.  1976

Blayney, Peter.  ‘”The Publication of Playbooks.”  A New History of Early English Drama.  Ed. John D. Cox and David Scott Kastan.  New York, 1997 383-422.

Bullough, Geoffrey.   Narrative and Dramatic Sources of Shakespeare.  8 volumes.  1957-1975)

Calderwood, James L.  To Be or Not to Be:  Negation and Metadrama in Hamlet.  New York:  Columbia University Press,  1983.  Chapter titles include (only a few are listed here):  “Hamlet the Name of Action:”  “Names and Meanings;”  “Names and Identities;”  “Tmetic Structure;” “This is I, Hamlet, the Dane;” in Part I.  Part II Focuses on “the range of the second soliloquy and deals with issues involving identity, erasure, and alienation.

Chambers, E.K.The Disintegration of Shakespeare’, British Academy Annual Shakespeare Lecture 1924, in Lascelles Abercrombie et al., Aspects of Shakespeare: Oxford 1933), pp. 23–48.

Chambers, E.K. The Elizabethan Stage.  4 vols.  Oxford.  1923.  This works well in making editorial decisions for both theatrical and academic textual criticism, particularly if one wishes to stage a play in period.

Clayton, Thomas. Editor.  The Hamlet First Published (Q1) 1603:  Origins, Form, Intertextualities.  Newark:  University of Delaware Press, 1992.  Marvin Rosenberg offers a chapter on the first staging of Hamlet in 1881 in argument with the ‘bad quarto’ theory of Q1.  In addition to a chapter by Hibbard on the chronology of the Texts other chapters are titled “Which Fortinbras, which Hamlet” by Philip Mcquire; “The Acting Version and the Wiser Sort” by Giorgio Melchiori; “Traditions of Emedation in Hamlet:  The Handling of the first Quarto,” by Marga Munkelt  offers a descriptive, analytic, and enumerative study with graphics by Kathleen Irace focused on the dating of the texts

De Grazia, MargretaHamlet without Hamlet.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.  While the whole of the book consists of chapters on history and theory, the chapter titled, “Hamlet’s delay” proves a riveting read in Shakespearean textual criticism; for the author notes that the Players Quarto of 1676 and all known acting editions until the end of the nineteenth century leave out the much maligned soliloquy in which Hamlet delays his revenge because Claudius is praying, and he does not want to kill him in a state of grace lest Claudius escape damnation.  Apparently, David Garrick, the famous actor, omitted this scene for fear of giving offense, and this omission led to the praise of Steevens (158-159) because damning the soul was perceived a worse offense than that of murder and incest committed by Claudius.

De Grazia notes the ground-breaking work of several Scottish critics, Hume, Richardson, Reid, and Robertson  who propose that the failure to act shows Hamlet’s kindness rather than his cruelty (161).  The chapter also treats the “smiling villain” line that Hamlet writes down in his notebook.  “One may smile, and smile, and be a villain” and de Grazia  enumerates variants of this phrase that are woven into the topos of the text as symbolic of deceit (163).  The essay includes an observation of the effect of deconstruction on criticism as Derrida has noted that Hamlet delays because he is waiting for “an apocalyptic deux ex machina to exact the revenge” (170).  This excellent scholarly resource offers much more brilliant textual criticism and new historicism to bring original insight for students and scholars.

Duthie, George Ian. The ‘Bad’ Quarto of Hamlet:  A Critical Study. Cambridge: At the University Press:Great Britain.  1941.  A Critical Study of The ‘Bad’ Quarto of Hamlet (1941). Forward by W.W. Gregg who maintains that the most critical chapter is titled, “Blank verse peculiar to Q1. In this chapter, Duthie explores the idea that these more prosaic lines represent the work of reconstruction by a reporter rather than a true copy of an original manuscript (x).  Gregg also notes that Duthie’s methodology proves that specific fragments of text must have been transcribed or poached from Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy.  Furthermore, he discloses the problems and possibilities concerning analytic textual criticism that compares Q1 with Bestrafte Brudermord.  Other chapters include close textual readings on various problems including “The Marcellus Theory,”  “Scene Sequence” and “The Character of the Queen.”  A great deal of the criticism shows excerpts in parallel form to trace possible origins for the text. This was reprinted by Payne and Fosse in 1825.  A scrupulous index of topics is included at the end of the book.

Eagleton, TerrenceShakespeare and Society.  London, 1967.

De Grazia, MargretaShakespeare VerbatimThe Reproduction of Authenticity and the Apparatus of 1790.  Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999.

De Grazia, Margreta.  “Hamlet’s Thoughts and Antics” (draft version) This can be read online at

Ellman, Maud.  “Shakespeare for Breakfast” in The Great Shakespeareans:  James Joyce.  T.S. Eliot, Auden, Becket.  Edited by Adrian Poole.  In the chapter regarding the textual connection between the two great authors, the professor and scholar “traces how Joyce’s appetite for Shakespeare grows with what it feed on” (12).

Fendt, Gene.  Is Hamlet a Religious Drama? (This is one in a series, Philosophy No 21.  Andrew Tallon, editor.  1998.)  This scholarly book  explores how Shakespeare and Kierkegaard both addressed an existentialist quest to show that “there is more to heaven and earth” than is dreamt (dreamed of)  in your (0ur) philosophy” as Hamlet opines to his best friend, Horatio.   This book by Gene Fendt certainly proves a quintessential text in the genre of the speculative literary criticism.

The character of Hamlet and Kierkegaard might both be described as melancholy Danes, writes Fendt,  but Fendt interprets and references numerous philosophical and literary critics including Aristotle, Boethius, Kant, H.R. Coursen, T.S. Eliot, Graham Greene, George Santayana, Kitto,  Goethe, Freud, and Sister Miriam Joseph to name but a few.  Most notably,  Fendt’s guide holds a candle to the darkness on his academic quest to answer his thesis  question through Frater Tactiturnus, a pseudonym for Kierkegaard.

Through the persona of the imaginary Frater Taciturnus we learn of neo-classical approaches to moral and religious tragedy, and Aristotelean criteria are observed with the classical division of life’s journey (via Kierkegaard) divided into three stages:  aesthetic, moral, and religious.  Although Fendt employs a circuitous route in discursive style to answer his question. the reader learns that Kierkegaard has named the punishment of evil a requisite for religious drama, so that we can deduce a moral raison d’etre, if a not a strictly formal religious schemata, behind the drama.

Fendt suggests that Kierkegaard, through the persona of Frater Taciturnus, considers that participation in the rite of the”communion service” (164-165)  after purging the body politic of evil could meet the criteria for interpreting the play as Christian drama. Fendt does not mention the implied analogy of the poisoned chalice prepared by Claudius for the lips of Hamlet before it  poisons Gertrude as symbolical of an antichrist communion expunging rather than empowering mortal life, but that idea is worth developing for the student critic.  In fact, Fendt notes that “Claudius is forced by Hamlet to drink from the chalice tempered by his own hand; the cup made a curse by his refusal to speak the saving word” (170).  (My comment:  And to what “saving word” does Fendt allude?  Confession?)

While Fendt begins his treatise by proposing that the term ‘religious drama” is a near impossible art form insofar as it attempts to embody an expression of the infinitely reflective (22), the book ends with the question of his thesis raising as many questions as it answers.  For this reason it proves a memorable heuristic.

However, Fendt shows in his chapter titled “Is Hamlet a Christian Tragedy” and “Is Hamlet a Religious Drama” that the question of Shakespeare writing a Christian drama cannot be assumed despite the play and actors bearing all the ceremony, rituals, symbols and costumes of Christendom.  Hamlet can be viewed as a form of moral drama that is, perhaps, more closely aligned to medieval dramas and passion plays that portray a suffering hero who falls because of a flaw in his (Christian or moral) character.  I believe he uses the example of Everyman, but The Second Shepherd’s Play is also representative of medieval drama. 

The concept of victim as antithetical to the concept of tragic hero, derives from Boethius, a medieval martyr and author of Consolations of Philosophy, writes Fendt.  This invites the audience to view the character of Hamlet with less pity than awe as suffering avenger with his own sins in need of atonement.  For if Boethius was correct in his claim that a victim is not the central object of tragedy, then the play might be called the tragedy of Claudius, since he is the character who is more sinning than sinned against.

Fendt makes a good case for an existentialist reading in keeping with the philosophy of Kierkegaard; he also notes Shakespeare’s proximity to the ideas of Saint Thomas Aquinas regarding metaphysical realism and Catholic/Christian theology. (93)  Ultimately Fendt describes Hamlet “as a play of possibility” (175) and a Christian mystery about the end times” (172).

His research on the meaning of the characters’ names (66-82) works well toward answering his title question in the affirmative if we consider the symbolical gravity of the names of the characters.  For example, Fendt notes that the name Claudius means “claws” + “deus. ”  My comment is that this knowledge connotes an animal beast that England was certain to associate with the historical roman figure of Claudius as one that was heir to Nero.  That sin or corruption  has overcome the body politic, as Fendt illuminates convincingly, urges the case for total annihilation of the rotten court to avoid a greater perfidy for the individual royals of the court and the progeny of their stained kingdom..  All in all, this text should be assigned to students of literature, philosophy, and/or theology as a literary study with profound diacritical value.  Gene Fendt provides a fascinating read.

Feversham, Arden. (aka Brooke) The Tragedy of M. Arden of Feversham in The Shakespeare Apocrypha ed. C.F. Tucker Brooke.  Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 1908.

Flatter, RichardShakespeare’s Producing HandA Study of His Marks of Expression to be Found in the First Folio. New York:  W.W. Norton, 1948.  Greenwood, 1969. Flatter studied with the famed German director, Max Reinhardt and his work on textual criticism as it relates to performance offers an invaluable tool for scholars and for performers alike.

Gollancz, Sir Israel.  The Sources of Hamlet:  With an Essay on The Legend. New York: Octogon Books, 1967.  The Preface begins with the story of having published “Hamlet in Iceland” in 1898.  A facsimile of a Codex Regius 2367 (Copenhagen) with lines from Amleti (the t is a special character that looks like an 0 with an x on top).  The book investigates Icelandic legend, Irish origins and  Belleforest, Saxo Grammaticus primarily to complete a thorough study in historic textual criticism.

Granville Barker, Harvey.  Prefaces to Shakespeare.  London:  B.T. Batsford, 1974.  From Henry V to Hamlet.  This critic notes that ‘he’d rather read Hamlet than see it (136).  The essay places Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the context of a Puritanical freeze on the robust theatre of Kyd, Marlowe, and notes that much of the life of Elizabethan theatre, the clowns, the dances, and songs is not translated into any comparable playwright whose textual legacy, blank verse more than iambic pentameter, is often missed in the history of theatre.  Yet he builds a convincing argument that sketches of Hamlet exist in his other plays, Jacques in As You Like it,  Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, and Richard II, so that we must agree with the famed critic that Hamlet was evolving in the mind of the playwright, just as mysteriously as the text evolved in the transmission of his works over so much time.

Greenblatt, Stephen.  Shakespeare’s Freedom.  Chicago:  The University of Chicago Press,  2010.  A chapter titled “The Limits of Hatred” offers what Rita Kelski terms “a presentist Renaissance” trans-historical  account of Merchant of Venice as situated in the anti-Semitic climate of Renaissance Venice, and compares this to contemporary xenophobia toward Islam in the zeitgeist of  warranted fear of terror.  The idea of cultural erasure amidst the tribal and individual urge for self preservation, as experienced by Shylock in Merchant of Venice,  is one that might be transferred to an interpretation of Hamlet’s exigency of duty in completing his act of avenging murder.  Another chapter offers more insight on Elizabethan views of regicide as duty to preclude cultural erasure.  The ideas of tribe, Catholic symbolism and icons, Judaism, and beauty are also treated in the slim, reader-friendly book.

Greenblatt, Stephen.  Hamlet in Purgatory.   Princeton:  Princeton University Press, 2001.   Trying to validate Shakespeare’s originality in employing the supernatural in Hamlet, this award winning writer claims  that neither Saxo Grammaticus in the 12th Century nor Francois Belleforrest in the Sixteenth Century wrote of ghosts in the antecedents to the text (205).  While I hesitate to term this book exemplary of the “new historicist” school, despite the author’s reputation as a trailblazer in that pursuit, the text does represent a historicists’ dream of a book with an eclectic selection of  art and cultural aritifacts regarding interpretations of the metaphysical purgatorial landscape in medieval, Elizabethan, Jacobean, and Renaissance Europe.

Part history, part literary criticism, this book delivers on its promise to locate the title character in the social milieu of artistic, political, literary, and theological interpretations of purgatory and the afterlife in the shifting ecclesiastical dogmas that pit Catholic against Protestant in medieval and early modern England.  Greenblatt offers spellbinding narrative that encompasses a wide scope of  Renaissance interpretations of purgatory beginning with the Supplication of Beggars by Simon Fish, a tract that undermined Catholic dogmatism and orthodoxy and illuminated the abuses of Catholic clergy through the sale of indulgences and financial trafficking of salvation from damnation.  He then traverses a number of medieval versions of purgatorial  horror:  the  terrifying Visions of Tondal;  Saint Patrick’s Purgatory and Lough Derg, the secret gate for instant atonement in Ireland;  and the 13th Century expulsion of Jews from Great Britain.  With this last revelation, Greenblatt takes a speculative turn as he attempts to compare  eerie reports of premonitions and dreams  in  Shakespeare’s work and elsewhere with reports of  ghostly premonitions in 1930s Berlin.

This best-selling new historicist narrates the strange case of the Gist (ghost) of Gy in France then hops on over to Italy for a very brief tour of The Divine Comedy by Dante.    While Greenblatt offers insight into comparative views of purgatory and ghosts in other Shakespearean plays including MacBeth, Richard III, and Anthony and Cleopatra, he does not get down to parsing the text of Hamlet until the last few chapters, but it is well worth the read to get to the mysterious end.

I will not spill the spoiler as to whether the Greenblatt sides more with the view that Shakespeare preferred the anti-Catholic expulsion of purgatorial concepts from the Christian Church of England or the Roman Catholic and recussant British view to perpetuate purgatory as a likely supernatural destination for most Christians.  The heated academic debate about Shakespeare’s religious intentions when he wrote and performed the masterpiece that became his Magnum Opus continues to captivate historians, theologians, and literary critics.

However, it might serve the reader well to note that while Greenblatt does reference Warburton, and Warburton did contribute to Theobald’s much exulted 18th Century edition of Hamlet, Greenblatt does not directly reference the source of his title and thesis as one that Theobald first noted and expanded in his 18th Century textual criticism.  Theobald can be credited for publishing a theory that Shakespeare must have written a vision of purgatory that is more consistent with Catholic theology since the obvious contradiction of a ghost appearing to his son who fears exile in “the undiscovered country from whose born no traveler returns” speaks to a belief in an (existential) remedial state of purgatory somewhere between the absolutes of heaven and hell.  (See David Farley Hills Critical Responses to Hamlet  Volume II, pages 50-60, for the full citation on Theobald’s textual comments in his edition of Hamlet.)  It is no small oversight that a critic touted as an expert historian should have ignored a source of such significance.  The 18th Century edition collated by Theobald as cited by David Farley-Hills reveals a more historically proximate indication of establishing Shakespeare’s belief in the metaphysical realm of purgatory.

Greenblatt, StephenWill in the World:  How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare. Norton & Company.  2004.   References the idea of “strategic opacity” as a writerly means by which Hamlet maintains its textual mystery and longevity as a classic.   (This idea is also published in his article titled, “Hamnet and the Making of Hamlet” in  The New York Times Review) That Will in the World is a Pulitzer-Prize finalist provides testimony to the longevity of The Bard. This is an inviting read for those scholars who crave the intimacy of authentic historicism. This is about 400 pages plus notes, so it needs time and an overstuffed club chair to be fully realized as a fine literary work of criticism and history.

Greg, W.W.  ‘The Hamlet Quartos, 1603, 1604’, MLR 5 (1910)

Greg, W.W.  On the Significance of Entry in the Stationers’ Register, see also Peter W. M. Blayney,

Greg, W.W. The Shakespeare First Folio: Its Bibliographical and Textual History (Oxford, 1955)

Greg, W.WDramatic Documents from the Elizabethan Playhouses.  2 volumes.  Oxford:  Clarendon Press, 1931.  He describes manuscripts from 1590-1660 for paleographers and those interested in Shakespeare’s sources and comparative studies of the Hamlet texts.

Hardin, Craig.  A New Look at Shakespeare’s Quartos (Stanford, 1961). The view is espoused in numerous articles by Steven Urkowitz.

Hinman, CharlesThe Printing and Proof-Reading of the First Folio of Shakespeare.  2 volumes.  Oxford:  Clarendon Press, 1963.  An exhaustive study of the printing process.  Hinman tries to recreate the print shop experience and provides all possible readings as printed and interpreted.  He posits the theory of disparate variants in Q1, Q2, and the Folio as the result of different compositors named A, B, C, and D whose idiosyncracies of error in the printing process can be traced throughout the printings of each text.  Hinman, from Rockville, Maryland became a student of Fredson Bowers who likely led Hinman to produce the facsimiles of the earliest texts with through line numbering for more reliable comparative analyses.

Honigmann, E.A.J. The Stability of Shakespeare’s Text.  Nebraska: University of Nebraska Text, 1965.  Chapter II outlines four theories of “The Transmission of Dramatic Manuscripts” 1) Pollard’s quest for the true copy text playbook or “autograph copy” submitted to the printer.  2) McKerrow’s theory that foul papers and promptbooks were used by players 3)Bower’s theory of multiple actors’ texts 4)Kirschenbaum’s theory that actors might have succumbed to the temptation to print parts or whole plays in a secret manner before the first Folio was assembled or even the first and second quartos printed.  A chapter that challenges the notion that Shakespeare never blotted a line is offered to query the possibility of manuscript transmission.  The author provides notes on the copyright laws as they affected the players and Shakespeare.  The examination of foul papers, fair copies, and lists of dramatis personae in Othello provide support for the argument for the mercurial and “unstable” textual transmission and production of Shakespeare’s plays.

Jenkins, Harold.  “Hamlet and OpheliaInterpretations of Shakespeare.  Edited by Kenneth Muir.  Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 1985.  Good discussion of interpreting line readings in the scenes between the two doomed lovers.

Joseph, Sr, Miriam.  “Hamlet, a Christian Tragedy.”  Studies in Philosophy 59 (April) 119-140. 1962.    This  female religious scholar compares Shakespeare’s masterpiece to Artistotle’s concept of a tragedy and the tragic hero, and marks the differences and similarities between classic Greek and  Christian tragedy as one that involves a  catharsis with Christian significance.  With systematic precision she proves that Hamlet the character is a Christian hero who fails due to a flaw in his Christian character that compels him to betray the commandment of the ghost and the dictates of Christian charity while exacting his revenge for the moral wrong inflicted on his corrupted kingdom and his royal inheritance.

Jolly, Margrethe.  The First Two Quartos of Hamlet:  A New View of the Origins and Relationship of the Texts.  North Carolina:  MacFarland & Company, Inc.  2014. The main argument is that Q1 should not be dismissed as a scrabble of reporters’ reconstruction, but that textual critics should remain open to the possibility that Q1 really was the real first copy text of Hamlet (119).  The author claims that the famous “To Be, or not to be, that is the question” line is one that modern audiences have been rehearsed through the ages to accept as the “right” line reading, but that “To be, or not to be, aye there’s the point” is a more muscular reading that might have appealed to Elizabethan audiences (118).  The fascinating book offers much to the new bibliographer, new historicist interested in the memorial reconstruction of the text and ample appendices of variants from which to raise questions and draw conclusions.

Jowett, John.  “Editing Shakespeare’s Plays in the Twentieth Century.”  Shakespeare Survey 59:  Editing Shakespeare by Peter Holland.  Cambridge University Press.

Kliman, Bernice W. and Paul BetramThe Three Text Hamlet:  Parallel Texts of the First and Second Quartos and First Folio.  Introduction by Eric Rasmussen.  Second edition.  AMS Press, Inc.  AMS Studies in the Renaisasance.  Brooklyn Navy Yard:  New York.  1991.  2003.  An indispensable tool for any scholar interested in Shakespearean Textual Criticism as it offers a lively narrative of the printing process, the business of copyright, and agency of transmission and publishing in Elizabethan and Jacobean England.

Kott, Jan.  “Hamlet in the Mid-Century.” Shakespeare Our Contemporary.  London:  Methuen.  1964.  A perfect study for those interested in comparative literature, cross-cultural, translation, political science, this essay examines the performance of Hamlet produced in Poland under the shadow of the Soviet Communist party.

Knights, L.C.  “Shakespeare’s Politics with Some reflections on the Nature of Tradition.  Interpretations of Shakespeare.  Ed. Kenneth Muir.  British Academy of Shakespeare Lectures.  Oxford:  Clarendon Press, 1985.

Knight, Wilson.  GThe Wheel of Fire:  Interpretations of Shakespearean Tragedy with Three New Essays.  London:  Methuen, 1968.  Includes “The Embassy of Death” and “Hamlet Reconsidered.”

Lesser, Zachary.  Hamlet After Q1.  Philadelphia:  University of Philadelphia Press, 2015.  The introduction provides evidence that a performance text for Hamlet existed as early as 1589 in a comment by Thomas Nash who said, “English Seneca read by candlelight helps unlearned dramtists patch together wole Hamlets.”  The chapter on Textual Bibliography and Textual Biography traces the evolution of Hamlet’s textual criticism from Theobold onward with a particular emphasis on the shift from Victorian Romantic criticism such as that of Charles Knight to the new bibliography of Collier who proved that the first quarto was actually written later than the second quarto.  Chapters on the new bibliographers task of reconstruction include “Contrary Matters:  The Power of the Gloss and the History of an Obscenity.”  More on the fragile nature of textual transmission in offered in “Conscience Makes Cowards:  The Disintegration and Reintegration of Shakepseare.”

Levin, HarryThe Question of Hamlet.  New York:  Oxford University Press,  1959.  Examines the interrogative motif in the play and those ways in which the language of questioning contributes to the drama without ever fully answering the important question.

Mack, Maynard.   Everybody’s Shakespeare:  Reflections Chiefly on the Tragedies. University of Nebraska Press, 1994.  Written for a variety of readers.

Mack, Maynard.  “The World of Hamlet.” Yale Review 41.   1952.  Treats the topics of imagination, reality, and environment as well as character development.

Marshall, Frank AA Study of Hamlet (1875)

Mathew, DavidThe Jacobean Age.  London.  1938.

Maguire, Laurie. Shakespearean Suspect Texts: The ‘Bad’ Quartos and their Contexts. Cambridge, 1996.

McKerrow, O.R. ‘The Elizabethan Printer and Dramatic Manuscripts’, Library, iv, 12 (1931–2), 253–75.

McKerrow,A Suggestion Regarding Shakespeare’s Manuscripts’ ,Review of English Studies, 11 (1935) 459–65.

McKerrow.  R.B. Printers and Publishers’ Devices 1485-1640. 1913.

Meisnest, F.W.  “Wieland’s translation of Shakespeare.”  Modern Language Review (Volume IX, No. 1  Jantabt)  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press,1914.  In a  Modern Language Review  (Vol IX, No, 1. Jantjabt 1914) article  titled “Wieland’s Translation of Shakespeare” by F.W. Meisnest for Cambridge University Press we learn of Wieland’s passion for Shakespeare and his quest to translate all Shakespeare’s work.   He disputed Voltaire’s disdain for Shakespeare and praised the genius of Shakespeare as “incomparable.”  According to Meisnest, Wieland relied on Warburton’s text for his translation; however, Meisnest gives textual evidence that he may have used both Theobald and Johnson in his translation of Hamlet.  It is a convincing argument since Johnson preceded his by almost a year, and Meisnest has found evidence in Hamlet that his translation used the Johnson edition.  Nonetheless, Meisnest points that the Germans were not to be outdone by the French.  However, evidence supports  Warburton’s edition  published in Dublin in 1747.

Original citation for translation at

Menzer, PaulThe Hamlets; Cues, Qs, and Remembered Texts.  Cranbury, New Jersey:  Rosemont Publishing & Printing Corp/Associated University Presses.   2008.    The argument of this scholar is that the problems of textual transmission are complicated by the distribution of parts to disparate players that were rolled into scrolls with lines and cues and introduces a new methodology of “playhouse practices” with textual analysis based on the business of theatre(20). The introduction credits Bowers and Margreta de Grazia for initiating landmark inquiry into the twentieth Century bibliographic reconstruction of texts as “backstage scripts” and notes that the New Bibliography offers a new economy departing from the work of Pollard, McKerrow and W.W. Greg that termed backstage papers as “foul papers” “prompt books” and “fair copies.” (17-20) He follows Werstine and proposes to “shelve Occam’s razor and acknowledge that early modern theater….probably produced a rubble of textual debris.” that resulted from accident, improvisation, and collaboration. (15-17). This extensive analytic, descriptive,  and enumerative study of textual criticism offers valuable appendices of the variants in specific line readings as they differ in Q1, Q2, and The Folio.  Pages 177 to 230 provide enumerative guides for textual readings, and the notes at the end of the book are comparable to those one would find in any scholarly edition.

Neill, Michael.  Hamlet:  A Modern Perspective as published in the Folger Shakespeare updated edition of Hamlet edited by Barbara Mowat and Paul Werstine. Simon & Schuster: New York, 1992, 2012.  This essay can be credited with reference to Stalin’s fear of producing Hamlet and banning the play for a time in Russia.  Also, Neil is credited with the quote by Russian director Myerhold regarding the profound significance of Hamlet.


Proudfoot, Richard and Ann Thompson, Gen editors.  Also edited by Neil Taylor, David Scott Kastan and H.R. Woudhuysen.   Hamlet: The Texts of 1603 and 1623.  Bloomsbury, England: The Arden Shakespeare Third Series, 2006.  This is an edition of both texts with textual criticism annotated throughout.  Also this text contains several wonderful photographs of theatre scenes.   Prints the two texts in serial rather than a redundant version of the parallel form as the Kliman and Bertram text.  This is included as both a primary and secondary source because of the commentary.

Mosten, Doug.  “To the great Variety of Actors” in The First Folio of Shakespeare 1623.   Edited by Doug Mosten.  New York:  Applause Books, 1995:  xxv-lii.

Mowatt, Barbara A.  “The Form of Hamlet’s Fortunes.”  Renaissance Drama. 19 (1988): 97-126.  Mowat traces the editorial transmission history of the text since Rowe to show how Q2 and the First Folio have tended toward making for a more liberal and individualized approach to editorial decisions for modern editions.

Neely, Carol Thomas.  “Documents in Madness’ Reading Madness and Gender in Shakespeare’s Tragedies and Early Modern Culure”  Shakespeare Quarterly 42 . 1991.  An excellent source for scholars interested in a new historicists approach to textual criticism.  The author treats the topic of misreading and misinterpreting the performance of Shakespearean roles that depict madness.

Onions., C.T.  Editor.  The Glossary. Oxford:  Oxford University Press.  1986.  A glossary, lexicon, and guide to the language in Shakespeare’s plays for philologists, etymologists, and anyone interested in discerning the need for continued textual critisim.

Owen, Ruth JThe Hamlet Zone:  Reworking Hamlet for European Cultures.  Newcastle upon Tyne:  Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012.  This book of textual criticism and historicism treats the diaspora of Hamlet in translation and adaptation from the Portuguese Hamlet, to Russian Ballet and Hungarian Poetry.  More direct textual criticism of translated works into the Danish theatre, the German theatre, and even a chapter on “Mohamlet” exhume the ghost for a post-modern costume of coverage and sustainability as a classic text.  “Hamlet as Unmarked Intertext:  The Imperative of Remembrance in ‘Horn’s End’ by Robert Blankenship and “Siting Hamlet for the Online Generation:  the hamlet_X project” bring this work of textual criticism into the global age of information sharing.  A terrific resource for interdisciplinary and comparative literature studies.

Pascucci, Margherita.   “‘This is I, Hamlet the Dane.'”  Philosophical Readings of Shakespeare.  New York:  Palgrave MacMillan, 2013.  The chapter on Hamlet begins her discussion of time by claiming that “the core of the discourse is in fact the relation between substance and shadow” (30); yet the metaphysical distance traversed in Pascucci’s criticism elaborates on the intersection of space and time in Hamlet by referencing a number of philosophical schools of thought, proving her scholarship more a matter of substance than shadow:  “Between Hamlet and the ghost, there is, as Marx would call it, a material act….This act of relating to oneself as another is a material act, Marx wrote….” (32).

Pascucci moves the discussion to intersect with mulitiple metaphysical discussions including, (but not limited to) the concept of allegory of the ephemeral as per Walter Benjamin (author of Origin of the German Baroque Drama); Spinoza’s Ethics; the mirroring effect of Shakespeare’s plays (40); Gilles Deleuze on Kant with a comment on interiority (42); and Goethe’s concepts of Urpahnomen and Darstellung.  Finally she distills the discussion of the metaphysical ephemeral to a chemical or “crystallized” substance (43).

She references Agnes Heller’s 2003 book Time is out of Joint to ally herself with those who distance Shakespeare from neo-classical norms regarding the treatment of time, citing other essays by Heller, most notably differentiating concepts of imminence vs. transcendence; time of retribution, psychic duration, irreversibility, Kairos, oscillating time, pause, and swing.  Quoting Heller in “Time as Arhythmia” she provides insight to the politics of tragedy and psychology of sanity:  “to follow the rhythm and tune of time is the secret of politicians and understanding madness” (49).

A comforting note on the tragedy of Hamlet involves capturing the nuance of escape from the temporal irreversibility of time in Shakespearean tragedy.  For example, Pascucci notes that Laertes and Hamlet find forgiveness for one another in death, and King Lear and Cordelia find a father’s and daughter’s love reconciled in the midst of tragic misfortune.  These graces are both examples of how Shakespeare allows redemption even in the irreversible trajectory of tragedy.  While she begins this chapter with emphasis on the “poverty” that Hamlet must overcome, we can find reason to hope for that religious catharsis, the Aristotelean requisite of tragedy, in Hamlet’s ability to find his identity as Hamlet the individual being while losing his identity as King. (49-50).


Pollard, Shakespeare Folios and Quartos: A Study in the Bibliography of Shakespeare’s Plays 1594–1685 (London, 1909); Shakespeare’s Fight with the Quarto Pirates and the Problems of the Transmission of his Text.  Cambridge.  1920.

Poole.  Adrian and Peter Holland,  Great Shakespeareans:  Joyce, T.S. Eliot, Auden and Beckett.  2012. Continuum International Publishing Group: London, New York. This is part of a series of books that feature great writers commenting on the Works of Shakespeare. The chapter on James Joyce is hilarious as it shows how Leopold Bloom of Ulysses fixates on Hamlet and Shakespearean text and serves up “mashed quotatoes” for breakfast along with all the other foodie allusions in Ulysses.

Raven, Anton Adolph.  A Hamlet Bibliography and Reference Guide 1877-1935.  Chicago:  The University of Chicago Press, 1936.  This text might be reprinted or amended with a new volume as it provides a Bibliography of editions of Hamlet up to the 1930s and annotated bibliographies of criticism with sizeable content offered in several abstracts.

Robinson, RandalUnlocking Shakespeare’s Language:  Help for the Teacher and Student.  Urbana Ill.  Ntional Council of Teachers of English and the ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading and Communication Skills.  1989.  Ideal for high school teacher and some undergraduate college classes, the book treats the grammar of Shakespeare’s language and provides analogies to modern speech, slang, etc.  It includes worksheets for students and other teaching materials.

Sherzer, Jane.  “American Editions of Shakespeare 1735-1866” Modern Language Association Vol. 22. No 4 (1907) 633-696.

Sisson, C.J.  New Readings in Shakespeare   2 vols.  Cambridge.  1956.

Small, Ian and Marcus Walsk.  The Theory and Practice of Text Editing.  Cambridge University Press.  1991.

Taylor.  Gary.  “General Introduction.”  In William Shakespeare:  a Textual Companion.  Edited by Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor, with John Jowett and William Montgomery. 1987.  Reprint.  London and New York:  W.W. Norton, 1997: 1-68.

Urkowitz, Stephen.  “‘Well-sayd Old Mole”:  Burying three Hamlets in modern editions’” in the Georgianna Zeigler edition (?) of Shakespeare Study Today.  New York.  AM. Press. 1986.  Pp. 37-70.

Urkowitz, Stephen.  “And “Good News about Bad Quartosin Bad Shakespeare Revaluations of the Shakespeare Cannon. Edited by Maurice Charney. London and Toronto.  Associated University Presses.  1988.

Tillyard, The Elizabethan World Picture.

Walker, Willliam SA Critical Examination of the Text of Shakespeare.  3 vols.  (1860)

Weingust, Don.   “The Shakespeare First Folio:  The Actors’ Text.”  Foliomania.  The Folger Shakespeare Library. 2011.  2015.

Wells, Stanley.  “Theatricalizing Shakespeare’s texts.” New Theatre Quarterly. 7. Xxxvi. 1991. pp.184-6.

Wells Stanley and Gary Taylor.  A Textual Companion.  Oxford University Press.  1987.

Weingust, Don.  Acting from Shakespeare’s First FolIo:  Theory Text and Performance.  New York and Abingdon Oxon, UK:  Routledge, 2006.

Welsh, AlexanderHamlet in Modern Guises. Princeton:   Princeton University Press.  2001.  This book helps to understand how Hamlet has influenced the novel and is a good start for textual analysis of works in translation since Hamlet has been translated into different forms and different genres (Italian Opera, par example).

Werstine, Paul.  “The Textual Mystery of HamletShakespeare Quarterly 39.  1988.  1-26.  Argues that both plays based on the Quartos and those on the Folios offer readings that are mysterious because they have been so mercurial through the ages.  Also see.

Werstine, Paul.  Editing Shakespeare and Editing without Shakespeare: Wilson, McKerrow, Greg, Bowers, Tanselle, and Copy-Text Editing  Vol. 13 (2000), pp. 27-53 Published by: Indiana University Press  or through:

Stable URL:

Wells, Stanley.  Shakespeare Survey 48.  Shakespeare and Cultural Exchange.  Cambridge University Press.  An Annual Survey of Shakespeare Studies and Production.  1995.  2002.

West, Anthony James.  “The First Shakespeare First Folio to Travel Abroad:  Constantine Huygens’s Copy.”  A Fascinating tale of a copy of The First Folio found in Spain as having been censored by the Catholic Church during The inquisition.  Other speculation that Cotton Mather held a copy, but the earliest recorded copy in America arrived in sometime before 1751 and that a copy went to The Hague sometime before 1688 by means of a Dutch scholar, collector, and poet. This article offers a great lead to scholars interested in comparative literature and textual transmission as it relates to translation.

Williams, Owen and Caryn Lazzuri.  FoliomaniaStories Behind Shakespeare’s Most Important Book.  Part of “The Wonder of Will” exhibition at The Folger Shakeseare Library, Washington, D.C.  Available at The Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 East Capitol Street, S.E.  What a luxurious find!   Paul Werstine writes a section on The Topic of the Shakespeare First Folio and Frank Mowery writes about the bindings of the First Folios.  More Information about the great traveling Shakespeare Folios and exquisite pictures that illustrate the print shop, facsimiles of parts of the first folios from Much Ado About Nothing, Henry IV, and the famous introduction by Heminge and Condell titled, “To the Great Variety of Readers.”  Also includes a wonderful, large print glossary of terms for textual criticism studies.

Wilson, J. DoverWhat Happens in Hamlet.  New York:  MacMillan, 1936.  Although primarily a classic study of literary criticism, the book is cited so frequently by textual critics that it cannot be excluded from a bibliography of textual criticism of Hamlet.  The chapter on Shakespeare’s familiarity with Timothy Bright’s “A Treatise on Melancholy” provides support for an analytic and historic approach to textual criticism.  Ghosts, Danish History, Elizabethan History and synopses of each act are offered.

Wilson, J. Dover.  “Hamlet I, ii, 129”  New York:  Times Literary Supplement.  May 16, 1918.

Walker, Alice.  Textual Problems of the First Folio. Edited by J. Dover Wilson. Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1953.  There is a reference to “foul papers” for as having been the basis for the text of Q2 and for transcribed prompt books being the basis for the text of The Folio.  Walker contends that Q2 was based on Q1.  Her contention is the textual transmission of the three texts need not be considered independently and that the Folio was subject to a great deal more error than Wilson allowed.  However she concedes that, “the Folio’s closest link with any quarto in anomalous accidentals is thus clearly with Q2 and these readings are, I believe, the significant ones (125).  Q1 to Q2 and The First Folio to Q3 in an attempt to follow a more linear line of logic for emendations. She provides several tables with specific cases of variants for readings in the texts and compares the compositor A with compositor B and cross-references the id, idiosyncrasies that are repeated in other plays of The Folio.  The use of the repeated O after “The rest is silence” and in Macbeth and King Lear are thought to be accidentals that were particular to the individual compositors in the printing of the Folio   She concludes that collators, transcribers, and compositors are contributed to more error than other critics have ascribed to them and that Q2, directly transmitted by foul papers, is the authoritative text

 Wieland, Christoph (and Eschenburg), translator:  prose translation of 22 plays (1762-1777) See Wieland’s Gesammelte Schriften, 2. Abt. Ubersetzungen, hersg. von Stadler, 3 Bde. Berlin, 1909-11 In a  Modern Language Review  (Vol IX, No, 1. Jantjabt 1914) article