The Bibliography and First-Line Index of English Verse, 1559-1603
Steven W. May
Georgetown College

May, Steven W. "The Bibliography and First-Line Index of English Verse, 1559-1603." Early Modern Literary Studies 1.2 (1995): 13.1-5 <URL:

  1. The Bibliography and First-Line Index of English Verse, 1559-1603 is a computerized first-line index of the poetry printed or transcribed in manuscripts during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. In addition to listing the first lines alphabetically, the Index provides thoroughly cross-indexed information about each entry. This data is cross-referenced by technical forms, authors, titles, subscriptions, refrains, genres, and subject matter, with later editions and published scholarship cited for each text as relevant.

  2. The Elizabethan Index complements William A. Ringler's Bibliography and First-Line Index of English Verse Printed 1476-1558, and its companion volume of English Verse in Manuscript, 1501-1558, prepared by Michael Rudick and Susan J. Ringler. Mansell Press will publish the final instalment of the Index in hardcover uniform with these first two volumes in the series. Unlike them, however, the Elizabethan Index is computerized and may also be published in CD-ROM or on-line.

  3. Professor Ringler originally designed the Tudor verse indexing project to help editors locate texts; however, the range of information provided for each poem extends the usefulness of the Index to disciplines beyond English literature. Our ancestors used verse to record anything they thought worth remembering. The subject index records poems on such topics as the plague and surgery, priests and monks, the New World, cooking and recipes, alchemy, Robin Hood, the Earl of Essex, marriage, women, monopolies, and kingship. Historians, historians of art, music, and medicine, and scholars in many other fields will find a wealth of research data readily available in the Index.

  4. Work on the Index continues under auspices of a three-year grant from the Research Division of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Presently, over 18,000 poems from a bibliography of some 1200 books and manuscripts are entered on the data base. The Elizabethan age will undoubtedly yield more extant verse, both by line count and number of individual poems, than has survived for all the preceding centuries of English poetry combined. The Index provides flexibility of control over this vast cultural resource: it will supply researchers with quick access to basic data for books, articles, dissertations, and term papers for generations to come.

  5. The Index is currently housed at Georgetown College, Georgetown, KY, 40324, under the direction of Steven W. May, Professor of English.
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(RGS, rev. 14 February 1998)