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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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August 23, 1600
On August 23, 1600, William Shakespeare's name appears for the first of five times in the Stationers' Register as "Mr Shakespere." The London publishers Andrew Wise and William Aspley entered two of his plays at that time: Much Ado About Nothing, entered
1600
The first edition of Sir John Oldcastle Part 1 poses many difficulties. Firstly, there exist two different quartos of the play bearing the year 1600, one of which bears Shakespeare’s name as author.
1600
SHAKESPEARE DOCUMENTED IS STILL GROWING! Descriptive content and transcriptions will continue to be added, updated and expanded. Check back for regular updates!
October 8, 1600
A Midsummer Night's Dream was entered into Liber C of the Stationer's Company on October 8, 1600.
1600
SHAKESPEARE DOCUMENTED IS STILL GROWING! Descriptive content and transcriptions will continue to be added, updated and expanded. Check back for regular updates!
ca. 1600-1615
SHAKESPEARE DOCUMENTED IS STILL GROWING! Descriptive content and transcriptions will continue to be added, updated and expanded. Check back for regular updates!
ca. early 1600s
A previously unnoticed reference to Hamlet – possibly one of the earliest in existence – is in a manuscript held by the Folger Shakespeare Library.
ca. early 1600s
SHAKESPEARE DOCUMENTED IS STILL GROWING! Descriptive content and transcriptions will continue to be added, updated and expanded. Check back for regular updates!
1598- 1601
SHAKESPEARE DOCUMENTED IS STILL GROWING! Descriptive content and transcriptions will continue to be added, updated and expanded. Check back for regular updates!
June 26, 1601
James Burbage died in 1597. His sons Richard and Cuthbert, who were principal shareholders of the Globe, inherited Blackfriars Theater from their father. In 1601, they purchased rooms adjacent to it. Their signatures on the “bargain and sale” indenture appear in the photo above.

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