Publication History 1590-1623

The table below lists the dates that Shakespeare's works were written* and then appeared in print. Some works were reprinted several times, Venus and Adonis by far the most. Eighteen of his plays (in Bold below) never appeared in print before the first folio. A few related works are included in this list: Greenes Groats-Worth of Witte (1592)1, Palladis Tamia (1598)2The Passionate Pilgrim (1599)3The Workes of Beniamin Ionson (1616)4, and the “False Folio” (1619)5. Footnotes on these publications appear below the table.

 Year
Work *
Plays
Quarto
Plays
Octavo
Poems
Quarto
Poems
Octavo
Other
Works
1590Taming of the Shrew+, Two Gentlemen of Verona+  
15912HenryVI, 3HenryVI  
15921HenryVI, Titus Andronicus, RichardIII+, Venus&Adonis+  Greenes Groats-Worth of Witte 1
1593Rape of Lucrece+, The Sonnets++ **Venus&Adonis 
1594Comedy of Errors, Love's Labor's Lost+2HenryVI, Titus Andronicus3HenryVIRape of Lucrece, Venus&Adonis 
1595RichardII, Romeo&Juliet, Midsummer's Night's Dream3HenryVIVenus&Adonis 
1596King John, Merchant of Venice+, 1HenryIV+EdwardIII Venus&Adonis
1597Merry Wives of Windsor+, 2HenryIV+RichardII, RichardIII, Romeo&Juliet(bad)  
1598Much Ado About Nothing, HenryV+1HenryIV, Love's Labor's Lost, RichardII, RichardIII, Rape of LucrecePalladis Tamia 2
1599 Julius CaesarAs You Like It+1HenryIV, Romeo&Juliet Venus&AdonisPassionate Pilgrim 3
1600 Hamlet+, Twelfth Night+2HenryIV, HenryV(bad), 2HenryVI, 3HenryVI, Merchant of Venice, Midsummer's Night Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, Titus Andronicus Rape of Lucrece
1601 Phoenix&Turtle 
1602Troilus and CressidaHenryV, Merry Wives of Windsor(bad), RichardIII Venus&Adonis
1603A Lover's Complaint+, Measure for Measure, Othello+, Sir Thomas More+Hamlet(bad)  
1604All’s Well That Ends Well+Hamlet, 1HenryIV  
1605Timon of Athens, Lear+RichardIII  
1606MacbethAntony & Cleopatra  
1607Pericles Prince of Tyre Venus&Adonis
1608Coriolanus1Henry IV, King Lear, Richard II Venus&Adonis
1609Winter's Tale1HenryIV, Pericles Prince of Tyre, Romeo&Juliet, Troilus&CressidaThe Sonnets, A Lover's Complaint 
1610Cymbeline Venus&Adonis
1611TempestHamlet, Pericles Prince of TyreTitus AndronicusPhoenix&Turtle 
1612 RichardIII  
1613HenryVIII, Two Noble Kinsmen+1HenryIV  
1614   
1615 RichardII  
1616Shakespeare Dies   Jonson's Folio 4
1617  Venus&Adonis
1618   
1619 HenryV, 2HenryVI, 3HenryVI, Lear, Merchant of Venice, Midsummer Night's Dream, Merry Wives of Windsor, Pericles Prince of Tyre 4  False Folio
(Pavier Quartos) 5
1620  Venus&Adonis
1621   
1622 Othello, RichardIII, 1HenryIV  
1623   First Folio
  1. Greenes Groats-Worth of Witte (1592) is a short book by Cambridge-educated author and playwright Robert Greene. It includes the first mention of the young Shakespeare in London. This mention occurred a year before any work by Shakespeare had appeared in print, but certainly after Shakespeare's early plays appeared onstage. Greene calls Shakespeare an “upstart crow, beautified with our feathers,” and “an absolute Johannes fac totum” (jack-of-all-trades), perhaps suggesting that Shakespeare was writing, acting and maybe even managing some of the company business. Greene adds that Shakespeare “is in his owne conceit the onely Shake-scene in a countrey.”
  2. Palladis Tamia (1598) is a book of literary history and criticism written by Francis Meres, who compared Shakespeare with Seneca for tragedy and Plautus for comedy. He described him as “Mellifluous and honey-tongued,” and added, “the Muses would speak with Shakespeare's fine filed phrase, if they would speak English.” This books refers to twelve plays written by Shakespeare – Two Gentlemen of Verona, Comedy of Errors, Love's Labours Lost, Love Labours Won, Midsummer's Night Dream, Merchant of Venice, Richard II, Richard III, Henry the IV, King John, Titus Andronicus and Romeo and Juliet. This is one reason we know these plays were written no later than 1598. The mention of Love's Labor's Won intrigues scholars, especially since it is mentioned again in a 1603 book seller's catalogue. The play has never been found and it was not published in the First Folio. Some scholars speculate that it may have been an alternate title for another comedy, perhaps Much Ado About Nothing.
  3. The Passionate Pilgrim (1599) is a poetry anthology published by William Jaggard, who later printed the first folio. This book contains twenty poems that Jaggard purported to be written by Shakespeare but only five are now considered authentic.
  4. The Workes of Beniamin Ionson (1616) is the first collection of stage plays printed in folio format. This publication, which appeared the year Shakespeare died, set the precedent for printing Shakespeare's works in folio format seven years later. Jonson published his own folio and lived another twenty-one years. Shakespeare's folio was published by his colleagues and friends,  John Heminges and Henry Condell, seven years after his death.
  5. The “False Folio” (1619) is so named because it appears to be the first attempt to print a collection of Shakespeare plays in a single volume. The ten plays published in 1619, once again printed by William Jaggard, were not actually in folio format but in a somewhat oversized quarto format. Customers could choose to bind them together or singly. This collection is also known as the “Pavier quartos” after Thomas Pavier, a printer and associate of Jaggard, who owned the rights to several but not all of the plays. Title pages to some of these plays were falsified to obscure actual rights and original printing dates. The only known extant copy of this publication is in the Folger Shakespeare Library. This “False Folio” may have provided the impetus to publish the more comprehensive and authoritative First Folio.

* The dates of the writings of each work are taken from Oxford Reference, and are based on the ‘Canon and Chronology’ section in William Shakespeare: A Textual Companion, by Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor, with John Jowett and William Montgomery (1987). Plays are listed in the first year each is conjectured to be written. A “+” sign indicates that the play may have been written the following year or later. Other scholars differ about the years these works were written. In many cases, the best we can determine is a year after which they were not written. For example, the date on the  title page of the earliest printing of Venus and Adonis is 1593 so we know it was not written later than that. In another case, the date on the title page of Pallis Tamia is 1598, and some of the plays Meres lists in that book did not formerly appear in print so at best we know those plays were not written later than 1598.  (Return to text)

** The Sonnets are conjectured to have been written from about 1503 to 1603. (Return to table)