We’ve been doing quite a bit of work on the Open Shakespeare project (which we’ve mentioned before). Given that a brief search on the net turns up many sites about Shakespeare and lots of online copies of shakespeare’s texts you might be forgiven for asking why do we need another shakespeare project?

In the new project faq we answer this question in detail but it is worth reiterating some of those answers here:

  1. This project will provide a complete set of shakespeare texts in an open form:
    • Legally open: public domain or cc-by
    • Project Gutenberg has 4 versions of most of Shakespeare and 2 of the 4 are copyrighted
    • See other examples in Shakespeare section of http://www.okfn.org/wiki/OpenKnowledgeRegistry/AsWiki
    • Socially open: provide texts in downloadable form (not just on a website)
    • Technologically open: provide texts in open, machine processable formats (plain text/xml etc)
  2. Provide multiple versions of texts (folios/moby/etc)
  3. Provide ancillary information such as introductions/chronology etc (again all in open form)
  4. Provide a programmatic API
  5. Package this all together

Most importantly the project is heavily oriented towards reusability. The main aim is not to provide another shakespeare website but to provide the tools and material to allow others to build their own applications and websites. While we will create a simple site using the material we’ve gathered and the API we’ve developed its purpose will be to showcase what can be done and to encourage others to use our work in ways we haven’t even considered.

Release Announcement

A new version (0.3) of open shakespeare is out. Get it via the code page:



  1. Can now view mutiple texts side by side (ticket:15). See it in action at:


  2. Now include moby/bosak versions of shakespeare as well as gutenberg (ticket:10) (though more work remains to be done to process these versions to plaintext and html)

  3. Fix bug whereby we were missing some of the available gutenberg texts (ticket:18)

  4. Install the shakespeare python package (ticket:16)

  5. Move to py.test from unittest

  6. New project website at http://www.openshakespeare.org/

Outstanding Issues

  1. Several of the source texts (all of them Gutenberg folios) seem to break the viewer due to kid (the templating system) complaining about about ‘not well-formed (invalid token) xml’. Any help in tracking this down would be greatly appreciated.

About Open Shakespeare

A full open set of Shakespeare’s works along with anciallary material, a variety of tools and a python API.

For more information see the about page: http://www.openshakespeare.org/about/

Mailing list: http://lists.okfn.org/mailman/listinfo/okfn-discuss/

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Rufus Pollock is Founder and President of Open Knowledge.