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We cannot be certain of the exact chronology of Shakespeare’s plays, as there is no record of the first production date of any of his works. But by careful detective work and a few guestimates, scholars and academics have arrived at a fairly close idea of their historical order.

The following sources of information were used to arrive at the final list:

  • several historical events and allusions to those events in the plays
  • the records of performances of the plays - taken from such places as Henslowe's diary and the diaries of other Shakespeare contemporaries like John Manningham (a student at the Inns of Court), and Thomas Platter (a Swiss businessman)
  • the publication dates of sources
  • the dates that the plays appear in print (remembering that the production of a play immediately followed the completion of that play in the Elizabethan age)

However, even though a generally accepted order exists, there are many who continue to with the order of plays listed below.

Play First performed First printed
Henry VI Part 2 1590-91 1594?
Henry VI Part 3 1590-91 1594?
Henry VI Part 1 1591-92 1623
Richard III 1592-93 1597
The Comedy of Errors 1592-93 1623
Titus Andronicus 1593-94 1594
The Taming of the Shrew 1593-94 1623
Two Gentlemen of Verona 1594-95 1623
Love's Labour's Lost 1594-95 1598?
Romeo and Juliet 1594-95 1597
Richard II 1595-96 1597
A Midsummer Night's Dream 1595-96 1600
King John 1596-97 1623
The Merchant of Venice 1596-97 1600
Henry IV Part 1 1597-98 1598
Henry IV Part 2 1597-98 1600
Henry V 1599-1600 1600
Much Ado About Nothing 1599-1600 1600
Julius Caesar 1599-1600 1623
As You Like It 1600-1600 1623
Twelfth Night 1601 1623
Hamlet 1602 1603
The Merry Wives of Windsor 1601 1602
Troilus and Cressida 1602 1609
All's Well That Ends Well 1603 1623
Measure for Measure 1604 1623
Othello 1604 1622
King Lear 1605 1608
Macbeth 1606 1623
Antony and Cleopatra 1607 1623
Coriolanus 1608 1623
Timon of Athens 1608 1623
Pericles 1609 1609
Cymbeline 1610 1623
The Winter's Tale 1610 1623
The Tempest 1612 1623
Henry VIII 1612-13 1623
The Two Noble Kinsmen 1612-13 1634

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