The 10 Best Shakespeare Books

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This wiki has been updated 20 times since it was first published in February of 2018. One of the most influential and well regarded storytellers of all time, William Shakespeare penned tales that not only offered intrigue, doomed romance, and high jinks aplenty, but also contributed a host of new words to the English language that we still use today. We’ve rounded up some of the Bard’s best works, with books to suit both beginners and those with advanced or scholarly tastes. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. The First Folio of Shakespeare: The Norton Facsimile

2. Romeo and Juliet

3. The Globe Illustrated Shakespeare

Editor's Notes

April 10, 2020:

Considered by many to be one of the most influential and greatest writers in the English language, William Shakespeare was a skilled dramatist who penned an extensive collection of plays, sonnets, and poems. When curating our selection we prioritized comprehensive anthologies, beloved plays, and complete collections. Many of the volumes on this list, such as The Tragedy of Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, and Twelfth Night include detailed analysis, breakdowns, explanatory notes, and additional assistance to help with comprehension.

Today we said goodbye to A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest to make room for two additions we felt added more variety to our list. The first is The First Folio of Shakespeare: The Norton Facsimile. This exquisite reproduction of the first collated edition of Shakespeare's works is considered a treasure among scholars and obsessives. It was initially put together by two of Shakespeare's friends, John Heminge and Henry Condell, who edited it and supervised its printing. Be aware that it does not include much in the way of commentary or helpful notes. It's a copy of a book printed in 1623, after all, and so it is filled with all the language, grammar, and printing quirks of the time. This insight into the world of Shakespeare is what makes it so compelling for people.

In the opposite direction, we added The Shakespeare Book, a highly visual choice that is an ideal supplement for those studying the Bard in school. It's entertaining, well laid out, highly informative, and authoritative. It's great for high schoolers who are not invested in old literature or are easily bored by it, as well as the layperson looking to understand and enjoy popular works like Romeo and Juliet and The Taming of the Shrew.

Although originally printed in the 1980s, The Globe Illustrated Shakespeare is still an exceptional volume for those who want the entire theatrical collection. It is worth it for the beautiful illustrations alone. And if you like poetry books, then you can't go wrong with Love Poems & Sonnets of William Shakespeare. This volume is perfect for the thoughtful reader who wants to ruminate on love and life, and it also makes a great Valentine's gift for the literature lover.

Special Honors

The Shakespeare Pro App Shakespeare Pro contains the complete works, which includes 41 plays, 154 sonnets, 6 poems, and even doubtful works. It features a handy concordance you can search to find an exact word or phrase, with relaxed searching to pull up words close to your search term. You'll also enjoy detailed scene breakdowns, fun facts, a portrait gallery, and The Shakespeare Passport, a virtual ticket to exhibitions and events.

The Royal Shakespeare Company The Royal Shakespeare Company is an English theater company that operates out of Stratford-upon-Avon. They perform the Bard's plays, build sets and costumes, and create educational material. Their website is a rich resource where enthusiasts can enjoy plot synopses, picture galleries, detailed timelines, character breakdowns, histories and biographies, performance clips, and quite a bit more.

4. Much Ado About Nothing

5. The Shakespeare Book

6. Folger's "Hamlet"

7. The Tragedy of Macbeth

8. Twelfth Night

9. Othello, The Moor of Venice

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10. Love Poems & Sonnets of William Shakespeare

Gia Vescovi-Chiordi
Last updated by Gia Vescovi-Chiordi

Born in Arizona, Gia is a writer and autodidact who fled the heat of the desert for California, where she enjoys drinking beer, overanalyzing the minutiae of life, and channeling Rick Steves. After arriving in Los Angeles a decade ago, she quickly nabbed a copywriting job at a major clothing company and derived years of editing and proofreading experience from her tenure there, all while sharpening her skills further with myriad freelance projects. In her spare time, she teaches herself French and Italian, has earned an ESL teaching certificate, traveled extensively throughout Europe and the United States, and unashamedly devours television shows and books. The result of these pursuits is expertise in fashion, travel, beauty, literature, textbooks, and pop culture, in addition to whatever obsession consumes her next.

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