Old Books


Explore over 25,000 extracts from early modern plays. Find out what early play readers and playgoers took, literally and figuratively, from plays.

Center Stamps


DEx is an online, searchable database of dramatic extracts found in seventeenth-century manuscripts. DEx is published by Iter: Gateway to the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Clasp Catch


For our beta launch, we have focused on only a handful of manuscripts. Help us track down new extracts from plays.

Making Manuscript Texts Searchable

DEx includes transcriptions from hundreds of manuscript pages that would otherwise be difficult to find. Where possible, the DEx bibliography links out to related resources, including full-text plays and manuscript catalogues, offering key contexts for the extracts in the database.


Gathering Nectar from Flowers

The extracts in DEx exist because someone thought they were worth copying. This makes us rethink our traditional understanding of what is important in a play: it's not always character or plot, but sometimes commonplaces, those pithily-phrased words of wisdom that are meant to be taken and re-used.

Manuscript book

What we cover

DEx includes extracts from plays published before the closure of the theatres in 1642. These extracts appear in manuscripts that were copied before 1700. Find out more about what is included in the database.