Bodleian Digitises Shakespeare Quartos For Free Online Study

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 26 March 2008
a photo of the frontispiece of an early version of Hamlet

All 32 copies of Hamlet, held at participating institutions are to be digitised first by the the Bodleian Library. Photo © Bodleian Library

The Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford is teaming up with the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC to create a freely-accessible digital collection of the Shakespeare Quartos.

Beginning in April 2008, the one-year project will reunite all seventy-five pre-1641 quarto editions of Shakespeare’s plays into a single online collection. The website, called the Shakespeare Quartos Archive, will feature high-resolution reproductions and full-text of surviving Shakespeare quartos in an interactive interface.

“The Bodleian Library is committed to making its collections and treasures available to the world-wide community of scholars, teachers, and students,” said Richard Ovenden, Associate Director and Keeper of Special Collections, Bodleian Library

“The Shakespeare Quartos Archive will help us move a step closer to realizing this goal. Working with the Folger Shakespeare Library and our other partners, we will create a significant online resource for scholars at all levels with an interest in Shakespeare.”

Functions and tools on the website will include the ability to overlay text images, compare images side-by-side, search full-text and mark and tag text images with user annotations to facilitate scholarly research, performance studies, and new pedagogical applications.

In the first instance, full-functionality will apply to all 32 copies of Hamlet, held at participating institutions.

The initiative is one of five transatlantic digitization collaborations between British and American institutions awarded the first JISC/NEH Transatlantic Digitization Collaboration Grants.

Other participating organizations include the British Library, Edinburgh University Library, the National Library of Scotland, the Shakespeare Institute at Birmingham University and the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities.

The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) is supporting the project through funding of almost £60,000 for the British participating organizations.

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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