UK Web Archive blog

17 March 2021

Shakespeare in the UK Web

By Jason Webber, Web Archive Engagement Manager, The British Library

It's Shakespeare week (15-21 March). William Shakespeare is, almost certainly, the most quoted literary figure (in English) and the popularity of his plays and poems endures into the digital age. His work is continuingly being taught, examined, analysed and most of all, quoted on the internet. Often quoted in unlikely places such as 'Now is the winter of our discontent' on the Butterfly Conservation website.

Shakespeare-butterfly

Most Popular?
What are the most popular Shakespeare quotes? Perhaps unsurprisingly 'To be or not to be" has far and away the most mentions in our SHINE service - all .uk websites collected 1996-2012 (JISC dataset obtained from the Internet Archive):

Shakespeare quotes 01

Shakespeare quotes from SHINE

If we take away "to be or not to be" this graph looks even more interesting:

Shakespeare quotes 02

Shakespeare quotes from SHINE

Want to try your own Shakespeare quotes in our SHINE service?

  1. Go to the trends page of SHINE: www.webarchive.org.uk/shine/graph
  2. Add a word or phrase into the input box, NOTE: phrases should go in quotes e.g. "all that glisters"
  3. To compare multiple words or phrases, separate by a comma e.g. "william shakespeare", "christopher marlowe, "ben johnson"
  4. Click on any point in the graph to see examples of the context the word or phrase was used
  5. Enjoy!

Do let us know your own favourite quotes on Twitter: @UKWebArchive