Professor Wells has an extensive record of publications, mostly concerned with Shakespeare and his contemporaries. His single-authored books include Literature and Drama (1970), Royal Shakespeare, 1977 (second edition 1978), Shakespeare: the Writer and his Work (1978), Shakespeare: An Illustrated Dictionary 1978 (2nd edition 1985), Re-editing Shakespeare for the Modern Reader (1984), and Shakespeare: a Dramatic Life 1994 (published in the USA by Norton as Shakespeare: A Life in Drama, revised edition as Shakespeare: The Poet and His Plays, Methuen, 1997).
For his multi-volume Oxford Shakespeare, he has edited Twelfth Night (with Roger Warren, 1994) and King Lear (2000). He edited the annual Shakespeare Survey for Cambridge University Press from 1980 to 1999 and is an Associate Editor of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and the Oxford Companion to English Literature.
Other publications include Thomas Nashe: Selected Writings (1964), Shakespeare: A Reading Guide 1969 (2nd edition 1970), Oxford Select Bibliographical Guides: Shakespeare 1973 (new edition 1990), English Drama Excluding Shakespeare (1975), a five-volume collection of Nineteenth Century Shakespeare Burlesques (1977), an edition, with R L Smallwood, of Thomas Dekker’s The Shoemaker’s Holiday (1979), and, with Gary Taylor, Modernising Shakespeare’s Spelling, with three studies in the text of Henry V, 1979.
He has edited Shakespeare’s Sonnets (1985), The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare Studies (1986), William Shakespeare a Textual Companion (co-authored with Gary Taylor et al, 1987), An Oxford Anthology of Shakespeare (1987), Shakespeare and the Moving Image 1994, Shakespeare in the Theatre: An Anthology of Criticism (1997), The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare (ed with Margreta de Grazia, 2001), The Oxford Companion to Shakespeare (with Michel Dobson, 2001) , and The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare in the Theatre (with Sarah Stanton, CUP, 2002).
He has published many articles and essays in books and learned journals including Shakespeare Survey, Shakespeare Quarterly, Shakespeare Jahrbuch, Theatre Notebook, Stratford Upon Avon Studies, etc., has reviewed for numerous publications including the TLS and the New York Review of Books.
His acclaimed book Shakespeare: For All Time appeared from Macmillan in September 2002 and has been published in America by Oxford University Press, New York. It has been translated into Norwegian, Korean, Romanian, and Czech. Shakespeare: An Oxford Guide (ed. with Lena Orlin) appeared in 2003.
He gave a series of three public lectures, ‘Lewd Interpreters’, at the Globe Theatre in October and November 2002; they have been published by Cambridge University Press under the title Looking for Sex in Shakespeare. (2004.)
More recent publications include Shakespeare & Co: Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Dekker, Ben Jonson, Thomas Middleton, John Fletcher, and the Other Players in his Story (Penguin) Is It True What They Say about Shakespeare? (Long Barn Books), and Shakespeare, Sex – and Love, (OUP, 2010. He is co-editor with Margreta de Grazia of The New Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare (2010).