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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.

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1598
SHAKESPEARE DOCUMENTED IS STILL GROWING! Descriptive content and transcriptions will continue to be added, updated and expanded. Check back for regular updates!
1598
The first description of a performance of Love’s Labor’s Lost appears in a sonnet sequence by Robert Tofte printed in 1598, the same year the play was first published.
ca. 1598
SHAKESPEARE DOCUMENTED IS STILL GROWING! Descriptive content and transcriptions will continue to be added, updated and expanded. Check back for regular updates!
February 25, 1598
Henry IV Part 1 was entered into Liber C of the Stationers' Company on February 25, 1598, under the title "The historye of Henry the iiijth with his battaile of Shrewsburye against Henry Hottspurre of the Northe with the conceipted mirthe of Sir John Ffalstoff." Andrew Wise
1598
William Shakespeare's name first appeared on the title pages of three plays in 1598, including this edition of Love's Labor's Lost. Fourteen copies of this edition are known to survive. The sub-title, "Newly corrected and augmented By W.
July 22, 1598
The Merchant of Venice was entered into Liber C of the Stationers' Company on July 22, 1598, under "the title the Marchaunt of Venyce or otherwise called the Jewe of Venyce." James Roberts, the London printer and publisher who entered the title, was allowed to enter the pla
1598
SHAKESPEARE DOCUMENTED IS STILL GROWING! Descriptive content and transcriptions will continue to be added, updated and expanded. Check back for regular updates!
1598
SHAKESPEARE DOCUMENTED IS STILL GROWING! Descriptive content and transcriptions will continue to be added, updated and expanded. Check back for regular updates!
1598
Francis Meres provided one of the earliest printed assessments of Shakespeare’s plays and poetry in his 1598 publication, Palladis Tamia, Wits Treasury in a chapter entitled “A comparatiue discourse of our English Poets, with the Greeke, Latine, and Italian Poets.
1598
Richard III was an immediate success in the bookshops of London. Andrew Wise published the first edition in 1597, and copies seem to have sold out very quickly, since he published the play again the next year, in 1598, as shown here.

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