Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Shakespeare's Sonnets: how to find them: Home

A quick guide to help you find Shakespeare's Sonnets via the Library's databases.


You have been asked to find a Shakespeare sonnet using EEBO (Early English Books Online) and English Poetry Online to compare the differences between the versions.

This guide will show you how to search the resources to find the sonnet you have selected. 


Early English Books Online (EEBO)

EEBO is an excellent resource for primary research, containing full-texts of early printed books from the 16th and 17th centuries.

It has captured the earliest surviving edition of every English-language work published during the first two centuries of printing in England, and converted this material into fully-searchable texts. This means you can search/browse the materials by author and/or topic and theme in order to answer your research questions.

Starting on the Advanced Search page. First you will need to locate the author Shakespeare by selecting the Look up Authors next to the Author keyword search.

NB. If you need help to locate EEBO see the search and discover Libguide to help you get started!

First you need to look up and select from the list of Authors to locate William Shakespeare.

You will need to search using the author’s last name - Shakespeare.

Now you need to limit your search to sonnets. To do this enter sonnet* in the title keyword box.

Before you can select / browse for a sonnet to compare, you will need to open the collective works. Look for Shake-speares sonnets in the description of the work if you a not sure which one to use.

Click on the image full text to open the works. Now you can select an image and view a sonnet. The sonnet number is listed before the works. This example shows Shakespeare's sonnets 13, 14, 15 and 16.

English Poetry

  English Poetry The original ground-breaking Chadwyck-Healey collection, English Poetry contains essentially the complete English poetic canon from the 8th century to the early 20th. Over 160,000 poems by more than 1,250 poets are drawn from nearly 4,500 printed sources.

Starting from the English Poetry home screen select the Advanced Search option.

First you will need to enter sonnets in Publication title - PUB search box. Next you will need to enter Shakespeare in the Author search box.

Click search to retrieve the results and find the sonnet required.  

Alternatively you can search for the first line or the title of the selected sonnet.

Enter the details in the first line / title search box.  e.g. “Shall I compare thee to a summers day” in Quotation marks

Click search to retrieve the results.

To view the full sonnet click on the link.

Understanding Shakespeare

Understanding Shakespeare is a collaborative project between JSTOR Labs and the Folger Shakespeare Library . It’s a research tool that allows students, educators and scholars to use the text of Shakespeare’s plays to quickly navigate into the scholarship written about them—line by line. Users simply click next to any line of text in a play and relevant articles from the JSTOR archive immediately load. Explore the collection here.

Contact Us or Give Feedback