Raphael Holinshed (died c. 1580) was an English chronicler, whose work, commonly known as Holinshed's Chronicles, was one of the major sources used by William Shakespeare for a number of his plays.
Relatively little is known about Holinshed. He is thought to have come from Cheshire, but lived in London, where he worked as a translator for the printer Reginald Wolfe. Wolfe gave him the project of compiling a world history from the Flood to the reign of Queen Elizabeth. This ambitious project was never finished, but one portion was published as The Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland in 1577. Holinshed was only one contributor to this work; others involved in its production included William Harrison, Richard Stanyhurst, and John Hooker.
Shakespeare used the revised second edition of the Chronicles (published in 1587) as the source for most of his history plays, the plot of Macbeth, and for portions of King Lear and Cymbeline.
- Allardyce and Josephine Nicoll, eds. Holinshed's Chronicle as Used in Shakespeare's Plays. 1927.