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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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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
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.
1598
This edition of Henry IV Part 1 is the earliest printed version of the play to survive fully intact.
1599
SHAKESPEARE DOCUMENTED IS STILL GROWING! Descriptive content and transcriptions will continue to be added, updated and expanded. Check back for regular updates!
1599
The title page of the second edition of Henry IV Part 1 identifies William Shakespeare as the play’s author for the first time in print. The practice of including authorial attribution on title pages was becoming increasingly common at the turn of the century.
1599
SHAKESPEARE DOCUMENTED IS STILL GROWING! Descriptive content and transcriptions will continue to be added, updated and expanded. Check back for regular updates!
1599
Sometime after Sir George Buc, the future Master of the Revels, purchased the anonymous play George a Greene, Pinner of Wakefield shown here, he added two manuscript notes to the title page.
1599
John Weever’s Epigrammes in the oldest cut, and newest fashion was published in 1599. Weever began his career as an aspiring poet and literary observer at Cambridge, where he was the student of William Covell at Queen’s College.
May 16, 1599
The Inquisition Post Mortem of Thomas Brend, shown here, is a near-contemporary witness of the lease for the site of the Globe on Maid Lane, Southwark, and a witness to the recent construction of the “house” itself.
1599
Customers browsing in the bookshops of London in 1599 would have found a new version of a popular play based on the well-known story of Romeo and Juliet.

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