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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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1608
At some point in 1608, Mathew Law re-published Richard II, including a new title page.
1608
This is the first edition of King Lear. It was printed in 1608 by Nicholas Okes, most likely within a year of when Nathaniel Butter and John Busby registered the play with the Stationers’ Company on November 26, 1607.
November 11, 1608
Dated November 11, 1608, this is the third of five enrolled indentures of bargain and sale for the Globe site, naming William Shakespeare as a leasee. The Globe playhouse was first built in 1599 on land leased from Sir Nicholas Brend.
1608
Working with printer William White, Matthew Law published the fourth edition of Richard II in 1608.
May 1606- June 1608
Sometime between May 1606 and July 1608, the Venetian ambassador to England saw a performance of Pericles, and invited the ambassador of France, the ambassador’s wife, and the Florentine resident in England, to join him.
1608
The fourth edition of Henry IV Part 1 features the same information on its title page as the previous two editions printed in 1599 and 1604, including the claim that it was “Newly corrected by W.
1609
This is the second edition of Troilus and Cressida. This play was recorded twice in the Stationers’ Company register before it was ever printed.
1605- 1609
SHAKESPEARE DOCUMENTED IS STILL GROWING! Descriptive content and transcriptions will continue to be added, updated and expanded. Check back for regular updates!
1609
First published in 1609, Pericles was among the most popular plays in print during the early 17th century, with a total of six editions published by 1635.
January 28, 1609
Troilus and Cressida was entered for the second time in Liber C of the Stationers' Company on January 28, 1609. The play had first been entered into Liber C on February 7, 1603, by James Roberts, a publisher.

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