Finding Shakespeare

There are so many books written by and about Shakespeare, that the Dewey Decimal system (which we use to classify books by subject on the shelves) has allocated a number just for Shakespeare. At Royal Holloway, we put all of our Shakespeare collection in 824 – which is on the Ground Floor of Founder’s Library.

Shakespeare collection

After a lot of questions, we’ve realised it’s pretty difficult to find what you’re after in this section, so we’ve hoping this blog post and some better signs will help you to find the book that you need!

In a nutshell, there’s so much under 824, that the classification system has to use letters after 824 to distinguish between the different kinds of work available: biographies, criticism on plays, copies of plays, collections of plays… If you’re using LibrarySearch to find books, make sure to write down the whole location number e.g. 824 B SCH 

824 B


I’m looking for a biography of Shakespeare or information on his life.

Try 824 B.

You’ll find books such as William Shakespeare : a compact documentary lifeWilliam Shakespeare : a biographyShakespeare revealed: a biography and Shakespeare’s other lives : an anthology of fictional depictions of the Bard.

I’m looking for general criticism on Shakespeare, or criticism on the Comedies, Tragedies, Histories as a group.

Try 824 D.

You’ll find books such as A Companion to Shakespeare Studies; Studying Shakespeare : a guide to the plays and Shakespeare : three problem plays.

I’m looking for books on Shakespeare’s style and use of language.

These are under 824 E.

Here you’ll find books such as Shakespearean Sentences : a study in style and syntax and Shakespeare’s Errant Texts.

I’ve been told to read a play in the Arden Shakespeare Collection/The Oxford Shakespeare Collection.

The Arden Collection is a group of publications, and they are kept in order of title under 824 M.

I want to research a play, or poem.

You will find individual copies of plays, and lots of criticism on those individual plays under 824 O to 824 Z.

The classification then uses numbers to distinguish between plays, but we would recommend using LibrarySearch to find a specific book that you’re interested in, and then going to that place on the shelf.

As a general guide:

824 O to 824 R = Comedies and criticism on Shakespeare’s comedies
824 S to 824 V = Tragedies and criticism on Shakespeare’s tragedies
824 W to 824 X = Histories and criticism on Shakespeare’s tragedies
824 Y = Sonnets and criticism on Shakespeare’s sonnets

Shakespeare classmarks