The New Oxford Shakespeare

“Great literature, great theatre, inspires great conversations. The New Oxford Shakespeare does not teach students what to think; it teaches them what to think about. They become participants in the debates.”
Terri Bourus, General Editor

The Modern Critical Edition is a unique text for students of Shakespeare as it presents, with great clarity, everything they need to develop a deep understanding of Shakespeare’s works, as well as his contribution to modern culture.”
Charlotte Scott, Pedagogy Consultant

“Why read Shakespeare’s Complete Works? Why not limit yourself to his “greatest hits”? Because each generation should discover and decide for themselves which works speak most directly to their experience, their time, their place. And because, like all great artists, Shakespeare created an entire new world, an imaginative alternative universe. Each part contributes to our understanding of that whole. Every play and poem is in dialogue with every other. Even his monologues are dialogues. The New Oxford Shakespeare puts Shakespeare’s own “most best” universe alongside the most comprehensive and diverse selection of responses it has inspired by the best writers, scholars and artists of the last four centuries.”
Gary Taylor, General Editor

The Modern Critical Edition

The edition for students, teachers, and play-lovers.

In one attractive, easy-to-use volume, The Modern Critical Edition gives students the very best resources they need to understand and enjoy Shakespeare’s works. The plays and poetry are presented in the order in which Shakespeare wrote them, so that students can follow the development of his imagination, his engagement with a rapidly evolving culture and theater, and his relationship to his literary contemporaries.

The price of the print edition includes 12 months’ free access to the complete cross-volume online edition.

  • The clearest, most up-to-date text, edited afresh from the original printings and manuscripts
  • Presented in modern spelling and punctuation
  • Clear spacious design with notes alongside the play text
  • Standardized speech prefixes and stage directions clarify the dramatic storytelling
  • Innovative introductions to each work develop understanding and stimulate discovery
  • Timelines and information boxes set the works in context
  • Notes and glosses beneath the text explain obscure words, historical references, and changes in words’ meaning
  • Performance notes focus attention on practical requirements and options for staging the plays, and to related debates
  • The poems and plays are treated as equally important, showing the formative relationship between the two

Introductory Material for Each Play

The superb quality and the valuable explanatory notes are just the start. The Modern Critical Edition is also designed to help lead students into their own engagement with the works, and to explore questions about interpretation, textual variants, literary criticism, and performance, for themselves.

To prime this thinking, each play is prefaced with an innovative ‘bricolage’ introduction containing dozens of concise quotations from 400 years of Shakespeare criticism. There are insights from poets, playwrights, novelists, critics, artists, and philosophers, from all over the world, and from Shakespeare’s time to our own. The range and diversity opens up avenues of thought, and provides rich material for students to develop their own critical thinking.

  • The timeline for each play shows the context of its writing and first performance
  • Essential details about the play’s dating, performance history, and textual variants are presented in a useful summary panel
  • More than one hundred illustrations illuminate the visual dimensions of Shakespeare’s art
  • Early musical scores are provided for twenty Songs