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.

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The first edition of the rollicking middle-class comedy The Merry Wives of Windsor was published in 1602, after being entered into the Stationers’ Register for John Busby on January 18, 1602 and then immediately transferred by Busby to Arthur Johnson on the
This is the third edition of Richard III, printed in 1602. It is the second of two editions printed by Thomas Creede for Andrew Wise. On June 25, 1603 Wise transferred the rights to the play to Matthew Law.
The 1602 quarto of Thomas, Lord Cromwell bears the attribution “sundrie times pub- / likely Acted by the Right Hono- / rable the Lord Chamberlaine / his Seruants.
In 1602, two years after the first edition, the second edition of Henry V, known as Quarto 2, was printed by Thomas Creede for Thomas Pavier.
August 11, 1602
Thomas, Lord Cromwell was entered into Liber C of the Stationers' Company on August 11, 1602.
January 18, 1602
The Merry Wives of Windsor was entered twice into Liber C of the Stationers' Company on January 18, 1602, shown above. John Busby, who made the first entry for that day, printed no known copies, and had never registered the title previously.
SHAKESPEARE DOCUMENTED IS STILL GROWING! Descriptive content and transcriptions will continue to be added, updated and expanded. Check back for regular updates!
February 7, 1603
Troilus and Cressida was entered for the first time in Liber C of the Stationers' Company on February 7, 1603.
June 25, 1603
Richard III,  Richard II, and Henry IV Part 1 were all transferred to publisher Matthew Law from publisher Andrew Wise in an entry in Liber C of the Stationers' Company, dated June 25, 1603.
ca. 1594- 1603
Sometime in the final years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, someone copied sixty-three lines from Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 1 into the final leaves of a notebook devoted primarily to his Latin notes on metaphysics and theology.