In 1623, seven years after Shakespeare's death, two of Shakespeare's fellow actors, John Hemmings and Henry Condell, compiled together 36 of his plays together in a volume that would become known as the First Folio. This large, handsomely bound volume was the culmination of two years work by the actors and various printers in compiling and laying out the material and was a format that was usually reserved for religious or medical publications. Although, odd quartos (smaller cheaper printed books of which many of the period's plays were printed.) of Shakespeare's plays had appeared during his lifetime, this was first time the bulk of his works appeared in one place. The Folio, named after the style of book, did not include his poems or sonnets and three other plays that are generally added to his cannon of works Pericles (a play in which the printers may not have had rights to at the time of printing), The Two Noble Kinsman (co-written with Shakespeare's colleague John Fletcher), and Edward III (a history play written in collaboration with other playwrights or a very early play written entirely by Shakespeare. Another play, Sir Thomas More, which Shakespeare contributed a scene to is also included on this site.
Above a picture of the title message and perhaps the most famous picture of Shakespeare, the Droeshout engraving from the opening pages of the First Folio.
Without the publication of the First Folio, nearly half of Shakespeare's plays (such as As You Like It and Macbeth) wouldn't have seen publication and may have been lost to history. Two such lost plays that were connected to Shakespeare are Love's Labours Wonne (which maybe have become another known title) and Cardenio (a late career collaboration). The published works were divided into the Comedies, Histories and Tragedies. While the classification has mostly held, over the years other subcategories such as Romances and Problem Plays have evolved. The First Folio boasts at being the sole authoritative edition of Shakespeare's works, however, several modern editors such as Riverside and Arden, will use both the Folio and Quarto editions of the plays if available. This usually results in both printed and on-line versions of the plays appearing slightly different. The plays appearing on this website follow a modernized spelling as based on the Folio copies. To view Text, Scene by Scene Synopsis, Character Directories, or Commentary on any of the Plays, click on their link in the table below or click on the genre tags on the left hand bar. Each genre page also contains extended commentary on how each play deals with its respective area.
Below, is a possible chronological listing of Shakespeare's plays. Debates rage between scholars as to when certain plays were written so this is just one of several possible listings.
To view Plays sections by genre:
Comedies Histories Romances Tragedies
To view other Shakespeare Library sections:
Biography Plays Poems Sonnets Theaters Shake Links
Send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or comments about this web site.
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