This guide will help you research William Shakespeare and his work.

Beyond Our Collection: Interlibrary Loan

Using the Interlibrary Loan Service

InterLibrary Loan: No library has it all! But the InterLibrary Loan (or ILL) is a service offered by Holman Library for borrowing books and articles from other libraries. 

For your research it is important to search many places.
  • First, start with the books and articles available through the Holman Library.

  • Then, If you find books and articles that the Library does NOT have access to, just request them through Interlibrary Loan.

  • Using Interlibrary Loan increases the amount of resources available to you and helps you become a more thorough researcher.

  • Books and other items that require mailing may take 1-2 weeks.

  • Articles and other digital items may arrive within 2-5 days. Use your email as your contact info and the article will be sent directly to you.

Other places you can search...

Use the links below to look for books, articles and more beyond our collection:

To request an item, use information you find in the tools above to fill out the Student Interlibrary Loan form. If you need help filling out this form, call the library reference desk at (253) 931-6480.

InterLibrary Loan requests are free to current GRC students, faculty and staff.

Sample: Popular vs Scholarly Info

COMPARE these two articles on Romeo and Juliet. 

Finding Articles

Find criticism of Shakespeare's plays and poetry in these databases:

Use multiple keywords to find criticism of Hamlet or another play.

Add Shakespeare to omit other articles with Hamlet as a keyword.

To refine your search, add a keyword that captures a theme or character. The example below, includes the keyword: self*.

You may check the box "full text" to omit abstracts, but leave it unchecked for a wider search. If we don't have it, you may borrow it through Interlibrary Loan.

Shakespeare Literary Criticism in Gale Literary Sources

Find scholarly Shakespeare criticism in Gale Literary Sources. Note:

  • Literature Criticism in Gale Literary Sources is a mix of popular and scholarly criticism. Be sure to assess each source.
  • You can get an overview of scholarly criticism of Shakespeare's work in GLS. If you cannot find the full text (whole article) of something perfect, use One Search or WorldCat to locate it elsewhere.

Gale Lit Lit Crit

  • From off-campus, sign in with your GRC student ID#.

You may also read Shakespeare Literature Criticism in print. The library's collection of Shakespeare Criticism includes 125 volumes (the "THE BROWN BOOKS"). They are located in the library Reference section and are chock full of criticism that can help you complete your research papers on Shakespeare.

  • TIP: Use the indexes in the back of each book to search for criticism in three ways: by character, by topic, or by topic specific to a play.

The BROWN BOOKS: Shakespearean Criticism

The series I call "The BROWN BOOKS" is a set of books that collects reviews, criticism, interviews, and other information solely addressing Shakespeare's work. Currently there are 140 volumes in the set, and they can be found in the library's reference collection.

In the back of each volume there are three indexes (all cumulative, so use the indexes in the latest volume if possible):

  • Character Index
  • Topic Index
  • Topic Index, by Play

The early volumes of the series focus on historical criticism of Shakespeare's works. 

The middle years focus on stage and film versions of Shakespeare's works.

The second half of the collection (approximately) compiles key literary criticism of Shakespeare's work. Many of the articles are excerpted from longer critical essays. Use article finder to see if we have the entire article in a library database. 

The series is a great place to get an overview of the critical issues addressed by Shakespeare critics.

What is Literary Criticism?

LITERARY CRITICISM IS analysis, interpretation and evaluation of authors and their works of literature, which can include novels, short stories, essays, plays and poetry. 

Such critical analysis is often written by literary critics and is found in essays, articles and books.

Criticism may be written for the general public and published in magazines, newspapers, television or the radio.  

Criticism may also be scholarly. Scholarly criticism is published in academic journals for a scholarly audience. It tends to be longer, more in depth, more focused and more sophisticated than popular criticism.

Literary "criticism" is not necessarily negative; "criticism" means a thoughtful critique of an author's work or an author's style in order to better understand the meaning, symbolism or influences of a particular piece or a body of literature.

Books Can Be Scholarly Too!

Try Holman Library One Search to look for scholarship across databases.

Holman Library logo


You can search directly within the literary criticism journal, The Explicator.

  • EXAMPLE: close reading of a passage from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet:

"Throughout the balcony scene, Juliet endeavors to train and discipline Romeo and turn him into a 'manned' falcon the way Petruchio, the falcnoer in The Taming of the Shrew, trains and disciplines Katherine, his figurative bird. As the relationship between the falcon and her trainer is based on the dominatino and the subjuugation of the falcon's powers to the trainer's will, Juliet shows strong tendency for power as she contunually speaks of herself as a 'falconer' and of Romeo as her 'bird'.

'Juliet: [to romeo after midnight] ... I would have thee gone,
And yet no farther than a woman's bird,
That lets it hop a little from her hand,
Like a poor prisoner in hist tristed gyves,
And with a silk thread plucks it back again,
So loving jealuos of his liberty. (2.2.176-81)'"

Mansour, Wisam. "The Taming of Romeo in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet." Explicator 66.4 (2008): 206-208. Academic Search Complete. Web. 22 Oct 2014.

 Artist unknown, image in the public domain. Wikimedia Commons. Web. 22 Oct 2014.