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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- 1601
SHAKESPEARE DOCUMENTED IS STILL GROWING! Descriptive content and transcriptions will continue to be added, updated and expanded. Check back for regular updates!
October 7, 1601
SHAKESPEARE DOCUMENTED IS STILL GROWING! Descriptive content and transcriptions will continue to be added, updated and expanded. Check back for regular updates!
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.
1601
SHAKESPEARE DOCUMENTED IS STILL GROWING! Descriptive content and transcriptions will continue to be added, updated and expanded. Check back for regular updates!
February 18, 1601
In early 1601, Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, led a rebellion which was over almost as soon as it began.
February 2 and March 13, 1602
The earliest mention of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is in a notebook of gossip, observations and sermon notes kept by John Manningham while a law student at Middle Temple, one of the Inns of Court in London.
1602
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
1602
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.
1602
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.

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