The WordWeb/IDEM database maps the dense network of quotations, cross-references and in-jokes that links hundreds of English plays from Shakespeare’s time. If a comedy or tragedy was a hit on the Elizabethan stage, names and phrases could go viral:
Thomas Kyd in 1588: “Hamlet, revenge!”
William Shakespeare’s Hamlet in 1600: “O, vengeance!”
William Shakespeare in 1600: “What is this quintessence of dust?”
John Marston in 1603: “And here’s the very quintessence of ducks!”
You can now search or browse the WordWeb/IDEM database to explore such references. See what phrases early modern dramatists borrowed from each other and from other sources and find answers to questions like these.