Edmund Spenser was the most important English non-dramatic poet of the Elizabethan period–possibly the only non-dramatic poet whom Shakespeare would have regarded as "the competition." That he was also (arguably) a feminist, a leading functionary in the vicious Elizabethan colonial program in Ireland, and a cautious critic of Elizabethan foreign policy only adds to the complexity of his hold on modern critical readers.

The Spenser Project Digital Archive is the online companion to the Collected Works of Edmund Spenser, forthcoming from Oxford University Press. At present, readers have access here to full-text versions of the books in which Spenser’s work appeared between 1569 and 1590: A Theatre for Worldlings, The Shepheardes Calender, the Spenser-Harvey Letters, and The First Part of The Faerie Queene (books I-III), as well as facsimiles of those books. We also provide scans of all pages containing variant states, an analysis of various forme-states within editions of these texts, and, in the case of The Shepheardes Calender, a grid of variants across the early editions through 1611.

Behind the scenes, we are constructing an even richer archive, which will supplement the forthcoming Oxford Edition of the Collected Works of Edmund Spenser—and so increase the usefulness of that edition. Transcriptions of all of Spenser’s works will soon be made publicly available, and edited versions of those texts will follow shortly. Glossaries, commentary, textual and critical introductions, will be available here as soon as they are completed and approved for public release by OUP.

The Spenser Archive has been made possible in part by major grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the Spenser Archive do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

In its completed form, the Archive will open itself up to a diverse audience, from Spenser scholars to those members of the public interested in the great achievements of Elizabethan poetry and in “England’s Arch-Poët,”—the man whom W. B. Yeats bitterly referred to as “the first salaried moralist among the poets.”

Principal Investigators: Patrick Cheney, Pennsylvania State University; Elizabeth Fowler, University of Virginia; Joseph Loewenstein, Washington University in St. Louis; David Lee Miller, University of South Carolina; Andrew Zurcher, Queens' College, Cambridge


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