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Shakespeare was involved in many aspects of London’s professional theatrical world. He was an actor, a playwright, and a shareholder in an acting company known as the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, which became the King’s Men when James I became king in 1603. His plays were performed on professional stages owned by his company--first the Theatre, and then, after 1599, the Globe. (After a property dispute, the Theatre was disassembled and the timbers used to build the Globe). In 1609, his company began using its own indoor theater at Blackfriars. His plays were performed in many other spaces, including the royal court, the universities of Oxford and Cambridge and the Inns of Court, public buildings and outdoor spaces in the provinces, and private households.

The total number of Shakespeare’s plays varies somewhat, depending on who is counting them, and how. The total shifts between 38 and 40 plays as scholars reassess references to his two lost plays--Love’s Labor’s Won and Cardenio--and analyze how large a hand he had in some collaboratively-written plays.

This category includes all publications of his plays, up to and including the First Folio in 1623; all entries for his plays in the Stationers' Register; administrative documents from the National Archives and elsewhere that make reference to his theaters and theater companies; and printed and handwritten references to seeing and/or reading his plays. Read Alan H. Nelson's thematic essay to learn more about lawsuits in Shakespeare's England.

Visit the British Library's Shakespeare in Quarto, to learn even more about actorsplayhouses and theater companies in Shakespeare's time, and to view completely digitized copies of Shakespeare's plays.

Our Featured Documents

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1619
Published in 1619, this second edition of The Merry Wives of Windsor was part of the collection of Shakespeare’s plays commonly known as the Pavier Quartos. The publisher, Arthur Johnson, also published the first edition in 1602.
1619
The fourth edition of Pericles was published by Thomas Pavier and printed by William Jaggard in 1619. Pavier and Jaggard printed ten plays by or attributed to Shakespeare, now known to scholars as the Pavier quartos.
1619
Thomas Pavier’s 1619 reissue of A Yorkshire Tragedie, now printed by William Jaggard, repeats the attribution to “W. Shakespeare” and places his name more prominently in capitals, but removes the information about playing company and theater.
July 8, 1619
The Merchant of Venice was originally entered into the Stationers' Register on July 22, 1598, by James Roberts.
Imprint 1600, i.e. 1619
The 1619 quarto of Sir John Oldcastle Part 1 is the first to attribute the play to Shakespeare, some three years after his death.
1619
SHAKESPEARE DOCUMENTED IS STILL GROWING! Descriptive content and transcriptions will continue to be added, updated and expanded. Check back for regular updates!
Printed as 1600, i.e. 1619
SHAKESPEARE DOCUMENTED IS STILL GROWING! Descriptive content and transcriptions will continue to be added, updated and expanded. Check back for regular updates!
Printed as 1608, i.e. 1619
William Jaggard printed the third edition of Henry V, one of the infamous Pavier Quartos, for Thomas Pavier in 1619, though the title page says 1608. In 1619, Pavier and Jaggard published a set of ten works, either by Shakespeare or attributed to him.
Printed as 1608, i.e. 1619
SHAKESPEARE DOCUMENTED IS STILL GROWING! Descriptive content and transcriptions will continue to be added, updated and expanded. Check back for regular updates!
April 20, 1619
In 1606 John Witter of Mortlake, Surrey, married Anne Phillips, widow of Augustine Phillips, a member of the King’s Men who had died in 1605.

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