History of the site

Shakespeare's Words

was published in 2002 by Penguin Books. Although it was one of the largest books Penguin had ever published (almost 700 pages), we were unable to include in it more than a small set of references to the various plays and poems in which the words are found. As the book became known, and increasingly used, we therefore began to think of an online website in which we could include every instance of a word and which would help users to search through the database easily.

It took a while to think through the logic of the proposed new site, and even longer to build the software and design the pages. We put up a preliminary edition that ran between 2004 and 2008. There was then a long and intricate design and testing phase, with innumerable emails, screenshots, and video calls with the new software company, Fineart of Prague, until the site was finally ready for launch in 2008.

The old model

As the site became increasingly popular, users started to ask for more features, and we began to compile a list. Hardware improvements also meant that, if we implemented a new design, we would be able to provide a site where search and retrieval would be much faster.

In 2017 we therefore decided to take this next step and give ShakespearesWords.com a makeover. Our indefatigable designer and his Prague team took on the job once again, and the result is what you now see.

The new model

Over the winter of 2017, the entire site was resdesigned, the search engine rewritten, and the database rebuilt.

We've added Folio and Quarto features, made the search box impossible to return a zero answer, added auto-completing features, and made everything much more interrogatable. We're especially excited that the Relationship Circles are now interactive, and will click through to the character's part in full.

There's a fuller list of the New Features to be found in About.

With the site revamped and refreshed for this relaunch, it became apparent that, much as we'd like to, we wouldn't be able to continue running the site on a Free For All basis. We remain immensely grateful to those who have helped us maintain the site over the past ten years through their donations, and their kindess has helped bring this 3.0 of ShakespearesWords.com to fruition. Still, the costs of developing ShakspearesWords.com 3.0 far exceed what we might reasonably hope to receive by way of voluntary help.

So since April 23rd 2018 the site has been using a ticket model. The different options are:
  • 1-day ticket (£1)
  • 1-week ticket (£5)
  • 1-month ticket (£10)
  • 1-year ticket (£30)
  • 3-year ticket (£50)
  • 10-year ticket (£100)

A separate ticket system has been created for group and institutional access. Surplus from this model will also allow us to offer help to groups where funding poses a special problem.
  • 1-month ticket (£40)
  • 3 month ticket (£95)
  • 1-year ticket (£350)
  • 3-year ticket (£950)
  • 5-year ticket (£1550)

Each option is easily renewable.

We hope that people will appreciate the necessity for this, and find that the increased functionality we've been able to introduce will continue to make ShakespearesWords.com the No.1 location for anyone wanting to explore Shakespeare's works like never before. Once development and running costs have been recouped, we plan to use the surplus to help promote Shakespeare productions by theatre companies that receive no public subsidy.

The financial side of the site is now administered by Professor D Crystal & Mrs H Crystal Business Partnership / VAT Reg No GB 419 9293 15.

The future

Nor is this the end of the story. We plan to carry on developing the site, as funds permit, and we very much welcome further suggestions from users about possible future directions. As ever, please drop us a line using our Contact page.