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Shakespeare's Sources

Shakespeare drew on many sources to find material for his plays. Though none of Shakespeare’s own books are known to survive, it is possible to discover what he read from his works.

Title page from Lily's Grammar

Title page from Lily's Grammar ©

As well as the Bible and classical texts, Shakespeare made use of contemporary tales and translations. Perhaps most influential were the texts and passages he studied at grammar school in Stratford-upon-Avon, where the process by which he was taught Latin encouraged his style of writing. Also of importance was a newly published history of Britain, Holinshed’s Chronicles (1587), in which Shakespeare found many of his stories.