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 redesigned, the search engine rewritten, and the database rebuilt.

We added Folio and Quarto features, made the search box impossible to return a zero answer, added auto-completing features, and made everything much more user-friendly. We were 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 our About section.

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 our first ten years through their donations, and their kindness has helped bring this version of ShakespearesWords.com to fruition. Still, the costs of developing ShakspearesWords.com 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. In April 2022, as maintenance and update costs increase, we adjusted our subscription plans.

If you are able to subscribe, thank you - your contributions help maintain and update the site - as you like it.

If paying for a subscription would prevent you from using our site, please do get in touch using our Robin Hood Ticket scheme.

The different options are:

  • 1 day - £1.50
  • 1 week - £6 (£0.71p per day)
  • 1 month - £15 (£0.50p per day)
  • 1 year - £65 (£0.18p per day)
  • 3 year - £150 (£0.14p per day)
  • 10 year - £365 (£0.10p per day)

A separate ticket system has been created for group and institutional access:

  • 1-month - £60 (£2 per day)
  • 3 month - £150 (£1.67 per day)
  • 1-year - £450 (£1.23 per day)

Each option is easily renewable. 

The financial side of ShakespearesWords.com is administered by 

Professor D Crystal and Mrs H Crystal Business Partnership
VAT Reg No GB 419 9293 15

All prices include VAT at 20% (if applicable)
Once development and running costs have been recouped, we plan to use any surplus to help promote Shakespeare productions by theatre companies that receive no public subsidy.

We hope that you’ll 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.


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.

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