Raphael Holinshed

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Holinshed, Raphael

(hŏl`ĭnz-hĕd', hŏl`ĭn-shĕd'), d. c.1580, English chronicler. He was a translator who also assisted Reginald Wolfe in the preparation of a universal history, which was never finished. In 1577, four years after Wolfe's death, appeared Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland, which he wrote with the assistance of William Harrison and Richard Stanihurst. Many Elizabethan dramatists drew plots for plays from the book in this and later editions. Shakespeare used it for several plays, especially Macbeth, King Lear, and Cymbeline.


See study by S. Booth (1968).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Holinshed, Raphael


(also, Hollingshead). Died circa 1580. English chronicler.

Holinshed compiled The Chronicles of England, Scotlande, and Irelande, better known as The Chronicles of Holinshed (vols. 1–3, 1577). A number of historians and antiquarians were connected with the work, such as J. Stow and W. Harrison; the latter’s Description of England was first published in the Chronicles. Holinshed himself wrote the sections on the history of England (to 1575), Scotland (to 1509), and Ireland (to 1547), for which he drew on the historical works of T. More, Polydore Vergil, E. Hall, and others.

While closely resembling medieval chronicle writing in methodology—for example, the compilatory nature of most of the sections and the year-by-year exposition of events—the Chronicles, nevertheless, clearly reflect the humanistic ideas and the political thought of 16th-century England. The Chronicles were widely known among contemporaries and served as a source for the plots of the historical plays of Shakespeare. Hol-inshed’s Chronicles are filled with factual information, including reference material, such as tables and texts of official documents.


The Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland, vols. 1–6. London, 1807–08.


Boswell-Storle, W. G. Shakespeare’s Holinshed. New York [1968].
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
On the censorship concerning Scotland, which focused on a range of recent politico-religious issues involving English interests and interventions, see Cyndia Susan Clegg, 'Holinshed, Raphael (c.1525-1580?)', DNB, online ed., doi: 10.1093/ref:odnb/13505, and, more extensively, Donno, 'Some Aspects of Shakespeare's "Holinshed"', 229-47, esp.
Holinshed, Raphael. Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland.