Skip to Main Content

A Guide to World History

Required Readings

Bate, Jonathan. Soul of the Age: A Biography of the Mind of William Shakespeare - print only; Reserve and Circulating copies

Mortimer, Ian. The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England - eBook only; (1 concurrent user, please close browser tab or logout when finished)

O'Farrell, Maggie. Hamnet: A novel of the plague - print (Reserve) and eBook editions (1 concurrent user, please close browser tab or logout when finished) 

Sharpe, J.A. Early Modern England: A Social History, 1550-1760 - print (Reserve) and earlier print edition

Wrightson, Keith. English Society, 1580-1640 - eBook edition only; unlimited user/download edition


Reference Works - A Place to Begin

Michael Dobson & Stanley Wells, eds. The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015) - eBook the most comprehensive reference work available on Shakespeare's life, times, works, and his 400-year global legacy. In addition to the authoritative A-Z entries, it includes a chronology, a guide to further reading, a thematic contents list, and special feature entries on each of Shakespeare's works. There are more than 80 new entries in the second edition ranging from topics as diverse as Shakespeare in the digital age and the ubiquity of plants in Shakespeare's works, to the interpretation of Shakespeare globally, from Finland to Iraq. To make information on Shakespeare's major works easier to find, the feature entries have been grouped and placed in a centre section (fully cross-referenced from the A-Z).

You can find more encyclopedia related to Shakespeare under: Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616 -- Encyclopedias.

Gillespie, Stuart. Shakespeare's Books: A dictionary of Shakespeare sources (London: Athlone, 2001) - eBook a comprehensive reference guide to Shakespeare's literary knowledge and recent scholarship on it. Nearly 200 entries cover the full range of literary writing Shakespeare was acquainted with, and which influenced his own work, including classical, historical, religious and contemporary works. It provides an overview of his use of authors such as Virgil, Chaucer, Erasmus, Marlowe and Samuel Daniel, whose influence is across the canon. Other entries cover anonymous or collective works such as the Bible, Emblems, Homilies, Chronicle History plays and the Morality tradition in drama. Entries cover writers and works whose importance to Shakespeare has emerged more clearly in recent years due to new research. Others describe and explain current thinking on long-recognized sources such as Plutarch, Ovid, Holinshed, Ariosto and Montaigne. Entries for all major sources, over 80 in number, feature surveys of the writer's place in Shakespeare's time, detailed discussion of the relationship to Shakespeare's plays and poems, and full bibliography. 

Bibliography of British and Irish History (BBIH) - digital guide to what has been written about British and Irish history from Roman period to present day. This service is a partnership between Royal Historical Society, Institute of Historical Research and Brepols Publishers. A "help pack" (user guide) is available here

Oxford Bibliographies Online - combines the best features of an annotated bibliography and a high-level encyclopedia to guide researchers to the best available scholarship. Bibliographies relevant to this class might include Atlantic History, British and Irish Literature, and Renaissance and Reformation. Each article includes an introduction written by a top scholar in the field. Also includes expert recommendations on the best works available in each discipline – whether it be a chapter, a book, a journal article, a website, an archive, or data set – to streamline the research process.

Wagner, J. A. (John A.) Historical Dictionary of the Elizabethan World: Britain, Ireland, Europe, and America (Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press, 1999) print the first dictionary of history to focus exclusively on the reign of Elizabeth I, Wagner's guide provides its users with clear definitions and descriptions of people, events, institutions, ideas, and terminology relating in some significant way to the Elizabethan period.

Encyclopedia of Early Modern History eBook - the online English version of the Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit, a fifteen-volume reference work published in print between 2005 and 2012. Over 4000 entries offer a multi-faceted view on the decisive era in European history stretching roughly from 1450 to 1850.

Cambridge Histories Online eBook - First published in 1902, the is a globally respected series of over 400 volumes spanning fifteen subject areas across the humanities and social sciences, with a concentration on political and cultural history, literature, philosophy, religious studies, music and the arts. Continually updated and searchable by author, title and subject, this collection represents an impressive breadth and depth of scholarship that offers an unmatched resource for today's historians.

Cambridge Companions Online eBook - 829 authoritative guides, written by leading experts, offering lively, accessible introductions to major writers, artists, philosophers, topics, and periods. It is fully searchable by author, title, topic, or theme.

Academic Journal Article Databases


Historical Abstracts (1955-) historical coverage of the world from 1450 to the present (excluding the United States and Canada), from over 2,000 journals published worldwide.

Modern Language Association (MLA) International Bibliography - an index to literary, linguistic, and folklore scholarship (books and articles) published throughout the world. Indexes material published from 1926-present.


Google Scholar vs. Quick Search

JSTOR vs. Academic Search Complete

Academic Search Complete (1975-present) covers topics in most areas of academic study. Full-text provided for over 10,000 publications, with over 7,850 peer-reviewed. Abstracts and indexing available for over 13,780 journals in the collection.

JSTOR database with full texts of journal articles.

Google Scholar is a freely accessible web search engine that indexes the full text or metadata of scholarly literature across an array of publishing formats and disciplines. This index includes most peer-reviewed online academic journals and books (80–90% of all academic articles published in English), conference papers, theses and dissertations, preprints, abstracts, technical reports, and other scholarly literature, including court opinions and patents. Google Scholar uses a web crawler, or web robot, to identify files for inclusion in the search results. It contains approximately 100 million entries.

Project MUSE Premium collection A comprehensive collection of peer reviewed, interdisciplinary journals from leading university presses, not-for-profit publishers and prestigious scholarly societies. Journals can be searched individually, in groups, or all together.

Digitized Primary Source Collections

Early English Books Online (1475-1700) - full text source of all titles contained in the Pollard & Redgrave's Short Title catalogue, Wing's Short Title catalogue, Thomason Tracts, and Early English Books Tract Supplement.

Early European Books (1450 to 1700) - high-resolution facsimile images of rare and hard-to-access printed sources from Early Modern Europe, roughly 1450-1700. In multiple languages and covering multiple subjects and disciplines

Medieval and Early Modern Sourcebook Online (1100-1800) - full text primary sources related to the study of medieval and early modern England, Ireland, and Scotland from the 11th to 18th c. Documents include personal and state papers for the region's government, history, and exploration.

Sabin Americana: 1500-1926 - works about the Americas published throughout the world from 1500 to the early 1900's. Included are books, pamphlets, serials and other documents that provide original accounts of exploration, trade, colonialism, slavery and abolition, the western movement, Native Americans, military actions and much more. Over 6 million pages from 29,000 work.

Empire Online (1492-1962) - images of original documents from libraries and archives around the world relating to Empire Studies, including many materials from the British Library.