This series superseded The Penguin Shakespeare series edited by G. B. Harrison which ran from 1937 until September 1959 with 37 titles.
In the early 1960s Penguin commissioned an updated text of the works of Shakespeare under the stewardship of T. J. B. Spencer. These editions were accompanied by a new set of commentaries. The first 31 volumes had covers illustrated by David Gentleman.
In the late 1960s, just six of these volumes were issued as hardback editions with covers illustrated by Pierre Clayette.
In 1977, the series was reprinted with new covers illustrated by Paul Hogarth, and over the next decade 7 more volumes were added. In the late 1980s, the series was reprinted this time with new covers illustrated by Louisa Hare, and the play Titus Andronicus was added to the series.
Between 2004-2005, all of the previous volumes were reprinted with new covers illustrated by Clare Melinsky, and the play Cymbeline was added. The publisher series name The New Penguin Shakespeare was not used for this last reprint.
From that time onwards, the volumes have been published under the Penguin Classics imprint.