The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

This Is The Life

Another chapter from my abandoned Shakespeare book. It's basically a list of all the primary sources that biographers have to go on when writing his biography (in addition to his written works, the historical context and circumstantial evidence.) Knowing me, it's probably got some mistakes in it and is incomplete.

A Shakespeare Chronology

Listed below is pretty much everything we know about Shakespeare’s life, in addition to his published works. This is all the information scholars have to go on when trying to work out when the plays were written.
1556 - Anne Hathaway born
1558 - November 17 - Elizabeth I begins reign as Queen of England
1559 - January 15 - coronation of Queen Elizabeth I
1564 - April 26 - William Shakespeare baptised
1566 - October 13 - brother Gilbert baptised
1569 - sister Joan born
1571 - September 28 - sister Anne baptised
1574 - March 11 - brother Richard baptised
1579 - sister Anne dies
1580 - April 6 - England rocked by earthquake. Mentioned in Romeo and Juliet
1580 - May 3 - brother Edmund baptised
1582 - November 27 - Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway marriage license issued
1583 - May 26 - daughter Susanna baptised
1585 - February 2 - son Hamnet and daughter Judith baptised
1587 - February 8 - Mary, Queen of Scots executed
1588 - August 8 - Spanish Armada defeated
1588 -  Ferdinando Stanley (‘Lord Strange’) replaces his acrobatics troupe with an acting troupe - Lord Strange’s Men
1589 - August 1 - King Henry III of France assassinated, igniting war of succession. Mentioned in The Comedy of Errors
1592 -  February 26 - The Jew of Malta by Christopher Marlowe performed by Lord Strange’s Men. An influence on The Merchant of Venice
1592 - March 3 - Henry VI performance noted in Philip Henslow’s diary
1592 - September 3 - Robert Greene dies
1592 - September 7 – London theatres closed due to plague
1592 - September 20 - Robert Greene’s pamphlet Greene’s Groats-Worth of Wit registered. Mentions ‘Shake-scene’ and refers to Henry VI Three
1592 - Henry Chettle apologises for Greene’s pamphlet in Kind-heart’s Dream
1592 - December 18 - Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe registered
1592 - The Spanish Tragedy by Thomas Kyd published in quarto
1593 - January - theatres opened again
1593 - January 26 - Christopher Marlowe’s The Massacre at Paris performed
1593 - January 28 - London theatres closed due to plague
1593 - April 18 - Venus and Adonis registered
1593 - Venus and Adonis published in quarto
1593 - May 12 - Thomas Kyd arrested for posting ‘divers lewd and mutinous libels’. Under torture, he implicates Christopher Marlowe
1593 - May 30 - Christopher Marlowe dies in suspicious circumstances
1593 - December 30 - Buckingham performance noted in Philip Henslow’s diary
1594 - January - theatres opened again
1594 - January 24 - Titus Andronicus performance noted in Philip Henslow’s diary
1594 - February 3 – London theatres closed again due to plague
1594 - February 6 - Titus Andronicus registered
1594 - Titus Andronicus published in quarto
1594 - March 12 - Henry VI Two registered
1594 - Henry VI Two published in quarto
1594 - April 16 - Ferdinando Stanley (‘Lord Strange’) dies
1594 - May 2 - The Taming of a Shrew registered
1594 - May - rebellion begins in Ireland
1594 - The Taming of a Shrew published in quarto
1594 - May 9 - The Rape of Lucrece registered
1594 - The Rape of Lucrece published in quarto
1594 - June 3 - theatres opened again
1594 - formation of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, based at the Theatre, Shoreditch
1594 - June 13 - The Taming of a Shrew performance noted in Philip Henslow’s diary
1594 - July 16 - Thomas Kyd dies
1594 - bad weather and poor harvests. Mentioned in A Midsummer Night’s Dream
1594 - December 26 - performs for Queen Elizabeth I at Greenwich
1594 - December 28 - performance of The Comedy of Errors at Gray’s Inn Hall. Meanwhile performs again for Queen Elizabeth I at Greenwich. Busy night!
1595 - December 9 - King Richard performed at Sir Edward Hoby’s house
1595 - Henry VI Three published in octavo
1596 - August 11 - son Hamnet buried
1596 - October 20 – father John Shakespeare granted coat of arms
1596 - November - issued with a writ by William Wayte following a breach of the peace
1596 - Edward III published
1597 - Lord Chamberlain’s Men change venue to the Curtain theatre, Shoreditch
1597 - May 4 - purchases New Place in Stratford for £60
1597 - August 29 - Richard II registered
1597 - Richard II published in quarto
1597 - October 20 - Richard III registered
1597 - Richard III published in quarto
1597 - Romeo and Juliet published in quarto
1597 - November 15 - defaults on tax payment in St Helen’s parish, London
1597 - December - Love’s Labour’s Lost performed at Court for Queen Elizabeth I
1598 - Love’s Labours Lost published in quarto
1598 - February 25 - Henry IV One registered
1598 - Henry IV One published in quarto
1598 - appears as Knowell in Every Man in His Humour by Ben Jonson
1598 - July 22 - The Merchant of Venice registered
1598 - Francis Meres’ Palladis Tamia: Wits Treasury is published. Lists Ge’tleme’ of Verona, Errors, Love labors lost, Love labours wonne, Midsummer night dreame, Merchant of Venice, Richard the 2, Richard the 3, Henry the 4, King John, Titus Andronicus and Romeo and Juliet
1598 - October 1 - defaults on tax payment in St Helen’s parish, London
1598 - December 28 - The Theatre at Shoreditch dismantled (to be reconstructed at Bankside as the Globe)
1599 - construction of Globe theatre at Bankside which becomes venue for Lord Chamberlain’s Men
1599 - March - Earl of Essex departs for Ireland. Mentioned in Henry V
1599 - September - Earl of Essex returns from Ireland, disobeying Queen’s orders
1599 - September 21 - Julius Caesar performed at Globe
1599 - October 6 - listed as tax defaulter in London
1599 - William Kempe leaves the Lord Chamberlain’s Men
1599 - The Passionate Pilgrim collection published in quarto
1600 - February - William Kempe morris-dances from London to Norwich
1600 - March 6 - Henry IV One performed at Court
1600 - August 4 - Much Ado About Nothing registered
1600 - August 4 - As You Like It registered
1600 - Much Ado About Nothing published in quarto
1600 - The Merchant of Venice published in quarto
1600 - August 14 - Henry V registered
1600 - Henry V published in quarto
1600 - August 23 - Henry IV Two registered
1600 - Henry IV Two published in quarto
1600 - Sir John Oldcastle published in quarto
1600 - October 6 - listed as tax defaulter in London
1600 - October 8 - A Midsummer Night’s Dream registered
1601 - January 6 - Twelfth Night possibly performed at Whitehall
1601 - February 7 - Richard II performed at Globe as part of Earl of Essex’s attempted rebellion
1601 - February 21 - Earl of Essex executed
1601 - September 8 - father John Shakespeare buried
1601 - October 7 - mentioned on deeds of Globe
1601 - November 30 - Queen Elizabeth I addresses parliament for the final time
1601 - The Phoenix and the Turtle published as part of Robert Chester’s Loves Martyr quarto
1602 - January 3 - end of rebellion in Ireland
1602 - January 18 - The Merry Wives of Windsor registered
1602 - The Merry Wives of Windsor published in quarto
1602 - February 2 - Twelfth Night performed at Middle Temple Hall
1602 - March 13 - Barrister John Manningham records in his diary a salacious rumour about Shakespeare sleeping with one of Burbage’s groupies
1602 - April 19 - Henry VI Three registered
1602 - May 1 - purchases land in Stratford
1602 - July 26 - Hamlet registered (having been ‘latelie Acted’)
1602 - September 28 - purchases a cottage on Chapel Lane, Stratford
1603 - Hamlet published in quarto
1603 - February 7 - Troilus and Cressida registered
1603 - appears in Sejanus His Fall by Ben Jonson
1603 - March - London theatres closed due to plague
1603 - March 23 - Queen Elizabeth I of England dies
1603 -  March 24 - James I begins reign as King of England with Anne of Denmark
1603 - May 19 - Lord Chamberlain’s Men receive royal patent and become the King’s Men
1603 - July - 25 - coronation of King James I
1603 - August - Christopher Hunt’s booklist includes Marchant of Vennis, Taming of a Shrew, Loves Labour Lost, Loves Labour Won
1603 - begins lodging with the Mountjoys on Silver Street
1603 - December 2 - As You Like It performed at Wilton House
1603 - December 31 - Edward Shakespeare buried
1604 - January 1 - A Midsummer Night’s Dream performed at Court
1604 - March 15 - joins in postponed investiture parade for King James and Anne of Denmark. Wears red cloth
1604 - April - theatres opened again
1604 - sues Philip Rogers for not paying for a delivery of malt
1604 - King James I commissions a new translation of the Bible
1604 - October - convinces Stephen Bellott to marry Mary Mountjoy
1604 - November 1 - Othello performed at Whitehall
1604 - November 4 - The Merry Wives of Windsor performed at Whitehall
1604 - December 26 - Measure for Measure performed at Court
1605 - January 7 - Henry V performed at Court
1605 - February 10 - The Merchant of Venice performed at Court
1605 - The London Prodigal published in quarto
1605 - November 5 - Gunpowder plot against King James I fails
1606 - Ben Jonson’s Volpone performed at Globe
1606 - Profanity Act is passed, proscribing the use of religious swear words. This means revivals of pre-1606 plays must be edited to remove any such language
1606 - December 26 - King Lear performed at Whitehall
1607 - January 22 - Love’s Labour’s Lost registered
1607 - January 22 - Romeo and Juliet registered
1607 - June 5 - daughter Susanna marries Dr John Hall
1607 - George Wilkins writes The Miseries of Enforced Marriage
1607 - Thomas Middleton’s The Revenger’s Tragedy published
1607 - September - Hamlet and Richard III performed on board the ‘Red Dragon’ anchored at Sierra Leone
1607 - November 26 - King Lear registered
1607 - December 31 - brother Edmund buried
1608 - February 21 - granddaughter Elizabeth baptised
1608 - May 20 - Antony and Cleopatra registered
1608 - May 20 - Pericles, Prince of Tyre registered (performed at some point between 1606 January 6 and 1608 November 23)
1608 - July – London theatres closed due to plague
1608 - August 10 - King’s Men lease Blackfriars theatre as a private venue
1608 - King Lear published in quarto
1608 - A Yorkshire Tragedy published in quarto
1608 - George Wilkins’ The Painfull Adventures of Pericles Prince of Tyre novelisation published
1608 - September 9 - mother Mary Arden buried
1608 - November 11 - mentioned on deeds of Globe again
1608 - December 17 - sues John Addenbrooke for not repaying £6
1609 - May 20 - Shake-speares Sonnets registered
1609 - July 25 - the ‘Sea Venture’ is shipwrecked in Bermuda. An inspiration for The Tempest
1609 - Troilus and Cressida published in quarto
1609 - Pericles, Prince of Tyre published in quarto
1609 - Shake-speares Sonnets published in quarto
1610 - February 2 - Pericles, Prince of Tyre performed at Gowthwaite Hall
1610 - Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist performed in Oxford
1610 - theatres opened again
1611 - April 20 - Macbeth performed at Globe (noted by Simon Forman)
1611 - May 15 - The Winter’s Tale performed at Globe (noted by Simon Forman)
1611 - Cymbeline performed (noted by Simon Forman)
1611 - November 1 - The Tempest performed at Whitehall
1612 - February 12 - brother Gilbert buried
1612 - May 11 - gives deposition in case of Bellott vs Mountjoy (Mountjoy being his former landlord at Silver Street, Bellott being Mountjoy’s son-in-law)
1612 - Henry IV Two performed at Court
1612 - Much Ado About Nothing performed at Court
1613 - February 4 - brother Richard buried
1613 - March 11- mentioned on mortgage for Blackfriars gatehouse
1613 - June 8 - Cardenio performed at Court
1613 - June 29 - Henry VIII performed at Globe. Globe burns down
1613 - retires to Stratford
1614 - Globe rebuilt
1614 - November 16 - briefly returns to London
1616 - February 10 - daughter Judith marries Thomas Quiney
1616 - March 25 - makes will
1616 - April 23 - William Shakespeare dies
1616 - April 25 - William Shakespeare buried
1619 - False Folio published
1622 - Othello published in quarto
1623 - August 6 - Anne Hathaway dies
1623 - First Folio published. First publication of Henry VI One, King John, Henry VIII, The Comedy of Errors, The Taming of the Shrew, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, All’s Well That Ends Well, Measure to Measure, Julius Caesar, Timon of Athens, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest
1634 - April 8 - The Two Noble Kinsmen registered
1634 - The Two Noble Kinsmen published
Notes:
A work being registered means it was entered onto the ‘stationer’s register’ - an early form of copyright protection, usually as a precursor to publication. The idea being, if you registered a work then no-one else could publish it without your permission. This could be for several reasons - either to prevent rival publications, or to prevent copies of a play circulating while it was still in the theatres, or even to keep a controversial work out of the public eye (as may have happened with Troilus and Cressida).
Regarding performances, only the earliest recorded staging is included - but they aren’t necessarily the first performances, the date of which is a matter of conjecture. I haven’t bothered including plays where the first known performance took place after Shakespeare’s death. ‘At Court’ usually, but not specifically, means a performance at Hampton Court, by Royal Request - as were the performances at Whitehall palace.
Philip Henslow was a theatre manager who kept a diary of box-office receipts, payments to writers and other production expenses. The play he calls Henry VI could be Henry VI One, and the play he calls Buckingham could be Richard III. Similarly the King Richard performed in 1595 is thought to be Richard II. Simon Forman was a doctor who kept a diary of moral lessons he’d learned from his trips to the theatre.
There’s some confusion over whether The Taming of a Shrew was a version of The Taming of the Shrew so I’ve tried to maintain that confusion for the sake of clarity.
Months and precise dates are included where available, but are not necessarily totally accurate - for instance, some sources put the date of the second performance in Greenwich in December 1594 as the 27th, and Henslow’s diary implies Titus Andronicus was performed up until February 6 1594 - three days after the Privy Council ordered all London theatres to be closed because of the plague. There would probably have been quite a lot of coughing and sneezing in the back row.
Similarly, where precise dates aren’t available, I’ve guessed at a sequence of events. For instance, plays being published shortly after their registration, and plays and poetry being published as a way of generating revenue when the theatres were shut.
Baptisms and burials were recorded, while births and deaths generally were not, so I’ve included the most accurate information available. Baptisms would’ve taken place a few days after the birth, and similarly, burials a few days after the death.

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