As a writer, I can appreciate great works even when I don't necessarily understand them. And such is the case with the plays of William Shakespeare. We study him in school, but I don't recall much of what I learned. So I looked up The Bard and found some interesting facts.The most interesting, and probably least known and most controversial, is what his first play was. Scholars can't seem to agree on a play. Some believe it was Henry VI, Part II. This history play was first performed in 1590-1591 and was published, according to "Stationer's Register" in March of 1594. Yet other scholars believe his first play was Titus Andronicus, first published in January 1594. A few more believe it was Comedy of Errors, published in June of 1594. Shakespeare co-wrote the tragedy Arden of Faversham which was published in June of 1592. Some believe that this was Shakespeare's first play although it is officially listed as written by "Anonymous." All of the above-mentioned plays were written between 1588 - 1590.
There's lots of information that scholars don't know, however. There is no definitive record of a chronology of his plays, nor even exactly how many plays he wrote. There are a number of reasons for this:
- Shakespeare didn't own the copyright of his plays. They were owned by the theatre company.
- Shakespeare often collaborated with other playwrights, who contributed substantial pieces to one another's works.
- None of the plays were published until the 1590's after they had appeared in the theatre several times.
Recently, several attempts have been made to piece together a coherent list of his plays have been published. But they disagree. Historical records from Shakespeare's time aren't complete enough for anyone to know for sure what his first play really was.
Modern research can better tell us which were plays were his earliest works but it is doubtful that we'll ever truly know which one came first. And, to me, I don't think it really matters much. Shakespeare's works are classic and hold the same allure for audiences as they did when they were first performed.
My family and I will see A Midsummer's Night Dream...my favorite of all of Shakespeare's known works. I hope little Quigley will get as much out of it as I did when I first saw it at his age.
Have a great weekend, whatever your plans. Until Monday, I wish you love and