Chronology of Shakespeare's plays – Oxfordian

The precise Chronology of Shakespeare's plays as they were first written is impossible to determine, as there is no authoritative record, and many of the plays were performed many years before they were published. In fact, many of Shakespeare's earliest works were published anonymously, or remained unpublished until the First Folio (1623). This lack of information, along with other seeming discrepancies in Shakespeare's historical record, are often cited in reference to the Shakespeare Authorship Question, an issue most mainstream scholars reject. In spite of this, interest in the authorship debate has grown, particularly among independent scholars, theatre professionals and some academicians. This trend has continued into the 21st century.

The leading alternate candidate for Shakespeare authorship is Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. Scholars and researchers who favour the Oxford candidacy are called Oxfordians. A basic proposal of the Oxfordian argument is the theory that many of the plays regarded as "late plays" or "collaborations" were actually reworkings of Oxford's earlier plays, or were revised by other writers after Oxford's death in 1604. [Joseph Sobran, Alias Shakespeare, 1977. Page 150.] Some orthodox scholars, including A.R. Cairncross, Peter Alexander and Prof. Karl Elze, as well as all Oxfordian researchers, dissent from the generally accepted Stratfordian chronology. Oxfordian researchers Charlton Ogburn & Mark Anderson, among others, have reconstructed the plays' relative chronology by various means, including contemporary allusions and records of performance, entries in the Stationers' Register, dates of publication as reflected on the title pages of individual plays, a 1598 list of many of Shakespeare's plays then extant by Francis Meres, visceral impressions, and studies of Oxford's writing style over time, in addition to his education, travels, theatrical background and personal relationships. [Ogburn, "The Mystery of William Shakespeare, 1984, pages 697-700]

Taking into account the Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare Authorship, the following chronology represents a minority viewpoint to mainstream Stratfordian dating. [Ogburn, "The Mystery of William Shakespeare, 1984, pages 699-735]

Oxfordian Chronology of Shakespeare's Works

(Dates in parentheses indicate the date of first publication only.)

*(1562), "The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet", proposed by Ogburn to be a childhood work of Oxford, under the pseudonym Arthur Brooke.
*(1567), "Ovid’s Metamorphoses", in collaboration with Oxford's uncle and tutor, Arthur Golding. [Mark Anderson, Shakespeare By Another Name, April, 2005. Page 396]
*1574, "Famous Victories of Henry Fifth", early version of Henry IV, Part 1 & 2, and Henry V.
*1577, revised 1594 (1623) "The Comedy of Errors" earlier version called "A Historie of Error". [Sobran, page 154-55]
*: If this is the same as the play entitled "The Night of Errors," it was also performed on 28 December 1594.
*1577, revised 1593 (1594) "Titus Andronicus" .
*1577, (1609) "Pericles Prince of Tyre". Completed in 1607 by another hand, probably George Wilkins.
*1578, editor and collaborator (1609) "Euphues: The Anatomy of Wyt". (According to Ogburn, by the late 1570s, Oxford is regarded as the unofficial head of the Euphuist faction of poets.)
*1578, (1623) "Cymbeline"; earlier version called "An History of the Cruelties of A StepMother"
*1579, revised in 1602 (1623) "All's Well That Ends Well"; earlier version called “An History of the Second Helene"
*1579, (1623) "The Taming of the Shrew"; earlier version called “A Morall of the Marriage of Mynde and Measure”
*1579, revised in 1590 (1623) "Love's Labour's Lost", earlier version called "A Maske of Amazons and a Maske of Knights”
*1579, (1623) "Merchant of Venice"; earlier version called “The Jew”
*1580, revised 1592 (1844) "Sir Thomas More"
*:Reputedly written by Anthony Munday, it is theorized to have been transcribed by Munday on behalf of Oxford, his employer. At this time Munday served as Oxford's "writing secretary".
*1581, revised 1594 (1597) "Romeo and Juliet"
*1581, revised 1592 (1602) "Richard III"
*1581, revised 1590 (1595) "Henry VI, Part III"
*1583, revised in 1599 (1600) "Much Ado About Nothing"
*1584, revised 1590 (published 1598) "Henry VI, Part I"
*:Stationers' Register on 25 February 1598.
*1585, revised 1598 (published 1600) "Henry IV, Part 2"
*1586, revised in 1599 (1600) "Henry V"
*1588, revised in 1599 (1623) "As You Like It" [Sobran posits 1594]
*: Stationers' Register in August 1600
*1589, revised in 1599 (1623) "Julius Caesar"
*: Mentioned by Thomas Platter in 1599.
*1589, revised in 1601 (1603) "Hamlet" [Sobran, Page 156-57]
*:Stationers' Register in July 1602 describes it as “lately acted.”
*1589 (published 1600) "Henry VI, Part II"
*:Parodied by Robert Greene in 1592.
*:In Francis Meres' 1598 list of Shakespeare plays.
*1590, revised in 1596 (1622) "King John"
*:In Francis Meres' 1598 list of Shakespeare plays.
*1591, revised 1604 (1622) "Othello"
*:Performed November 1604.
*:Stationers' Register in November 1607.
*1592, revised in 1602 (1623) "Twelfth Night"
*1593 (1623) "Taming of the Shrew"
*1593, (1623) "Henry VIII" (probably revised in 1612 by John Fletcher) [Anderson reports that many leading 18th & 19th century scholars dated Henry VIII to "pre-1604" including Samuel Johnson, Lewis Theobald, George Steevens, Edmond Malone and James Orchard Halliwell-Phillipps. Page 403]
*1594 (1623) "The Two Gentlemen of Verona"
*: In Francis Meres' 1598 list of Shakespeare plays.
*1594 (1598) "Love's Labour's Lost"
*:In Francis Meres' 1598 list of Shakespeare plays.
*1594, revised in 1603 (1623) "Macbeth"; revised again in 1615 by Thomas Middleton. [Anderson posits 1585-86, page 401]
*1594, revised 1603 (1608) "King Lear", earlier version called "The True Chronicle History of King Leir"
*1594, (1623) "The Winter's Tale"; earlier version called "A Winter’s Night Pastime".
*1595 (1597) "Richard II"
*:In Francis Meres' 1598 list of Shakespeare plays.
*1595 (1600) "A Midsummer Night's Dream"
*:In Francis Meres' 1598 list of Shakespeare plays.
*1596 (1600) "The Merchant of Venice"
*:Recorded at Stationers' Register on 22 July 1598. In Francis Meres' 1598 list of Shakespeare plays.
*1597 "Henry IV, Part I"
*:In Francis Meres' 1598 list of Shakespeare plays.
*1594-1597 (1603?) "Love's Labour's Won"
*:In Francis Meres' 1598 list of Shakespeare plays. In Christopher Hunt's August 1603 booklist. A lost play.
*1598 (1602) "Merry Wives of Windsor",
*1601 (1609) "Troilus and Cressida"
*:Stationers' Register in February 1603.
*1602 (1623) "Measure for Measure"
*1603 (1623) "Coriolanus"
*1603 (1623) "Antony and Cleopatra"
*:Stationers' Register in May 1608.
*1603, (1623) "Timon of Athens", completed in 1607 by another hand, possibly Thomas Middleton.
*:Stationers' Register in May 1608.
*1603 (1623) "The Tempest" [Karl Elze, as glossed by Anderson, page 400]

*Unknown start date (1728) "Cardenio" (possibly completed in 1612 by John Fletcher)
*:Was performed in 1613. Published only in an adaptation by Lewis Theobald entitled "Double Falshood"; essentially a lost play.
*Unknown start date (1634) "The Two Noble Kinsmen" (possibly completed by John Fletcher).

The following plays have been attributed to Shakespeare but are in fact of different or uncertain authorship:
*1600 (1600) "Sir John Oldcastle"
*:Philip Henslowe's diary records it was actually written by Anthony Munday, Michael Drayton, Richard Hathwaye and Robert Wilson in collaboration.
*1604 (1605) "The London Prodigal"
*:Acted by Shakespeare's company and published under his name, but the style is not his.
*1605 (1608) "A Yorkshire Tragedy" completed by Middleton
*:Acted by Shakespeare's company and published under his name, but the style is not his. Possibly by Thomas Middleton.

ee also

*Shakespeare Authorship
*Shakespeare Apocrypha


External links


* [ Shakespeare Oxford Society home page]
* [ Joseph Sobran's Shakespeare Library]
* [ The Shakespeare Fellowship]
** [ A Beginner's Guide to the Shakespeare Authorship Problem]
** [ Oxfordian reviews of Alan H. Nelson's orthodox biography of Oxford, "Monstrous Adversary" (2001)]
* [ Dr. Michael Delahoyde's summary of Oxfordian theory]


* [ The Bard's Beard — A "Time" Article]
* [ Arguments against Oxford's Authorship by Irvin Leigh Matus]
* [ Original-spelling transcripts of Edward de Vere's letters prepared by Dr. Alan H. Nelson (an Oxford biographer not supportive of Oxfordian Theory)]

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