Our featured plays have been selected for editing from the hundreds of surviving plays from London’s early modern theaters. They feature a variety of authors, genres, and dates of first performance and publication. EMED does not include plays by Shakespeare: to access scholarly editions of Shakespeare’s plays, visit Folger Digital Texts.
You can read or download our texts. To read the EMED plays online, click the red “READ” button on the left. You may easily switch between original and regularized spelling views of each play:
- Original spelling: EMED featured plays are documentary editions, not critical editions. This means that they reproduce the text as it appears in the source playbook, including early print conventions and unfamiliar spelling. EMED offers these clean, encoded transcriptions as a window into the conventions of the past and as a foundation for future scholarly and interpretive work. Turn to our Editing Resources page to learn more.
- Regularized spelling: Early modern spelling is quite different from modern English. When editing texts, scholars often standardize spelling and distinguish between ‘i’ and ‘j’, and ‘u’ and ‘v’. Our regularizations begin there, but they do not extend to full modernizations. You will find “loveth” in the place of the original “loueth,” for instance, but not “loves.” Even with these steps toward standardization, these plays still reproduce the oddities of early modern playbooks: speech prefixes may be missing, stage directions misplaced, act and scene divisions may be inconsistent, and words themselves may be missing or different from those found in a modern critical edition. The PDFs provided on this page are the regularized versions: original spelling PDFs are available from the EMED play entry.