A Note To Students
This web site is a reference resource, but I do not have time to answer specific reference questions, or as is more often requested, respond with a complete set of references on a particular topic. Nor would it be right for me to do so. I recommend you take the time to learn how to use this site (not a difficult task--read the introduction and then use the site map as a guide) and also to learn how to use the Internet search tools.
With regard to research on the Internet, it is important that you realize that it is just in its infancy in providing solid, academic information. Your best resource is still first and foremost a library, and the reference librarians whose job it is to help you with inquiries. I have provided a bibliography to my Shakespeare Timeline. Reference to any one of the general books listed there will do more to help you understand Shakespeare's life than any Internet site of which I am aware.
A third point needs to be made. Because information is so easy to get over Internet, students tend to get lazy, and prefer electronic materials over printed materials. When electronic materials are simply scans of already printed materials this is fine. They are indeed easier to get. But when the materials are originally published on Internet, they usually have not gone through an editorial process that may help vouch for their accuracy and high level of scholarship. On the Internet, every man is a publisher, and there is usually no "quality control" process that insures accurate, high quality content. This is not always the case, of course, and I can think of many examples of faulty information in printed materials, but in most cases you can trust printed sources more than Internet sources. Things are changing, and more quality information is becoming available on Internet each day, but the exercise of critical thinking about the reliability of Internet sources is very important.
In spite of my best intentions, I realize this will be interpreted as rude or uncaring by some students, but please do not write with requests for me to do your research for you. I simply do not have time and it would not be right even if I did. Would you write the editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica or the Readers Guide asking them to send you everything they know about a certain topic, and then expect them to write back immediately--in time for you to copy their information into your school report? The situation is no different over the Internet. I care about you and hope that you succeed, therefore the best advice I can give you is to start your research early, go to the library, ask reference librarians for help if necessary, and then supplement your research with sources from the Internet.
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Last modified 04/05/99