1564-92 | 1593-96 | 1597-1600 | 1601-04 | 1605-08 | 1609-12 | 1613-16 | After 1616
References — Three asterisks (***) indicate references I have yet to verify, complete, or check for consistency.
Allusion = E. K. Chambers, ed., The Shakspere Allusion-Book, 2 volumes (Oxford University Press, London: 1932 reprint)
EKC = E. K. Chambers, William Shakespeare: A Study of the Facts and Problems, 2 volumes (Clarendon Press, Oxford: 1930)
Helicon = Hyder Edward Rollins, ed., England’s Helicon, 2 volumes, 1600, 1614 (1935)
HP = J. O. Halliwell-Phillips, Outlines of the Life of Shakespeare, 7th edition,
2 volumes (Longmans, Green, and Co., London: 1887)
SS = Samuel Schoenbaum, William Shakespeare: A Documentary Life (Oxford University Press, New York:1975)
Wallace = Charles William Wallace, “New Light on Shakespeare” (Part 2), The Times (London), May 1, 1914, p. 4.
[Forms of the name “William Shakspere” or “William Shakespeare” always appear in bold. Only authorship-related items are numbered. Items in brackets refer the reader to the date the document was actually created. Documents that refer back to earlier documents no longer extant give the earlier date in parentheses. When the date is uncertain but spans a number of years, the item is listed under the earliest date. Dating issues are discussed with each item. In many cases, purely legal Latin texts and mundane business transactions are not quoted in full. Only the first issuance of a Quarto is noted. For a complete list, see Quartos.]
1. 1601 “The Phoenix and the Turtle” in Robert Chester’s Loves Marytr, or Rosalins Complaint. At the end, “William Shake-speare“. Of the remaining poems, two are signed “Vatum Chorus”, one signed “Ignoto”, one signed “John Marston”, one signed “George Chapman”, and two signed “Ben Johnson”. (printed by Richard Field for Edward Blount) (Allusion I, 95)
2. 1601 In manuscript “Catalog of the Poems contayned in Englands Helicon,” made by Francis Davison in preparation for editing A Poetical Rhapsody (1602) “W. Shakespeare” (handwritten; Francis Davison) (Helicon II, 37)
3. 1601 Mar 25 Will of Thomas Whittington of Shottery, husbandman:
Item I geve and bequeth unto the poore people of Stratford 40s. that is in the hand of Anne Shaxspere, wyf unto Mr Wyllyam Shaxspere, and is due debt unto me, beyng payd to myne Executor by the sayd Wyllyam Shaxspere or his assigns, accordyng to the true meanyng of this my wyll…
(Worcestershire Probate Registry) (handwritten) (EKC II, 42; SS 68, with facs.)
***4a. 1601 Oct 7 Deed transfering the Globe and other Southwark properties from Nicholas Brend to Sir Matthew Brown and John Collett as security for a £2500 debt. “Richard Burbadge and William Shackspeare gent.” (handwritten) (Wallace)
***4b. 1601 Oct 10 Updated deed for the above transaction. “Richard Burbage and William Shakspeare gentlemen” (handwritten) (Wallace)
5. 1602 Q3 of Richard the Third. William Shakespeare on title page. Spelling changed from Q2. (printed by Thomas Creede for Andrew Wise) (EKC I, 294)
6. 1602 Q1 of The Merry Wives of Windsor. William Shakespeare on title page. (printed by Thomas Creede for Arthur Johnson) (EKC I, 426)
[1602 Peter Brooke’s accusation that Sir William Dethick (Garter King-of-Arms) elevated base persons. See listing under 1700.]
7. 1602 Garter and Clarenceux reply in defense to Brooke’s Complaint. Related to above. This original document tends to confirm the existence of the above item. Shakespere written next to arms. (Bodleian Library, MS. Ashmole 846) (SS 172, with facs.)
8. 1602 Mar 13 Diary entry of John Manningham:
At our feast wee had a play called Twelve Night, or what you will, much like the commedy of errores, or Menechmi in Plautus, but most like and neere to that in Italian called Inganni. A good practise in it to make the steward beleeve his lady widdowe was in love with him, by counterfayting a letter as from his lady, in generall termes, telling him what shee liked best in him, prescribing his gesture in smiling, his apparaile, &c., and then when he came to practise making him beleeve they tooke him to be mad.
Vpon a tyme when Burbidge played Rich. 3. there was a Citizen greue soe farr in liking with him, that before shee went from the play shee appointed him to come that night vnto hir by the name of Ri: the 3. Shakespeare overhearing their conclusion went before, was intertained, and at his game ere Burbidge came. Then message being brought that Rich. the 3.d was at the dore, Shakespeare caused returne to be made that William the Conquerour was before Rich. the 3. Shakespeare’s name William. (Mr. Curle?)”
(British Museum) (handwritten; John Manningham) (Allusion I, 98; EKC II, 212; SS 152, with facs)
9. 1602 May 1 Conveyance of 107 acres of land from William and John Combe to Shakspere for £320.
This Indenture made the firste daie of Maye, in the fowre and fortieth yeare of the raigne of our Soveraigne Ladie Elizabeth, by the grace of God, of England, Fraunce and Ireland, Queene, Defendresse of the Faithe, &c., betweene William Combe of Warrwicke, in the countie of Warrwick, esquier, and John Combe of Olde Stretford, in the countie aforesaide, gentleman, on the one partie, and William Shakespere of Stretford-uppon-Avon, in the countie aforesaide, gentleman, on thother partye; Witnesseth that the saide William Combe and John Combe, for and in consideracion of the somme of three hundred and twentie poundes of currant Englishe money to them in hande, at and before the ensealinge and deliverie of theis presentes, well and trulie satisfied, contented and paide; wherof and wherwith they acknowledge themselves fullie satisfied, contented and paide, and therof, and of everie parse and parcell therof, doe clearlie, exonerate, acquite and discharge the saide William Shakespere, his heires, executors, administrators and assignes for ever by theis presentes, have aliened, bargayned, solde, geven, graunted and confirmed, and, by theis presentes, doe fullye, clearlie and absolutelie alien, bargayne, sell, give, graunte and confirme unto the saide William Shakespere, all and singuler those errable lances, with thappurtenaunces, conteyninge by estymacion fowre yarde lance of errable lance, scytuate, lyinge and beinge within the parrishe, feildes or towne of Olde Stretford aforesaide, in the saide countie of Warrwick, conteyninge by estimacion one hundred and seaven acres, be they more or lesse; and also all the common of pasture for sheepe, horse, kyne or other cattle, in the feildes of Olde Stretford aforesaide, to the saide fowre yarde lance belonginge or in any wise apperteyninge; and also all hades, leys, tyinges, proffittes, advantages and commodities whatsoever, with their and everie of their appurtenaunces to the saide bargayned premisses belonginge or apperteyninge, or hertofore reputed, taken, knowne or occupied as parse, parcell or member of the same, and the revercion and revercions of all and singuler the same bargayned premisses, and of everie parse and parcell therof, nowe or late in the severall tenures or occupacions of Thomas Hiccoxe and Lewes Hiccoxe, or of either of them, or of their assignee, or any of them; together also with all charters, deedes, writinges, escriptes, and mynumentes whatsoever, touchinge or concerninge the same premisses onlie, or only any parse or parcell therof; and also the true copies of all other deedes, evidences, charters, writinges, escriptes and mynumentes, which doe touche and concerne the saide premisses before bargayned and solde, or any parse or parcell therof, which the saide William Combe or John Combe nowe have in their custodie, or herafter may have, or which they may lawfullye gets, or come by, without suite in lawe; to have and to horde the saide fowre yarde of errable lance, conteyninge by estymacion one hundred and seaven acres, be they more or lesse, and all and singuler other the premisses before by theis presentes aliened and solde, or mencioned or emended to be aliened and solde, and everie parse and parcell therof; and all deedes, charters, writinges, escriptes and mynumentes, before by theis presentes bargayned and solde unto the saide William Shakespere, his heires and assignee for ever, to the onlie proper use and behoofe of the saide William Shakespere, his heires and assignee for ever. And the saide William Combe and John Combe, for them, their heires, executors and administrators, doe covenant, promise, and graunte to and with the saide William Shakespere, his heires, executors and assignee, by theis presentes, that they, the saide William and John Combe, are seazde, or one of them is seazde, of a good, sure, perfect and absolute estate, in fee simple, of the same premisses before by theis presentes bargayned and solde, or ment or mencioned to be bargayned and solde, without any further condicion or Iymyttacion of use or estate, uses or estates: and that he, the saide John Combe, his heires and assignee, shall and will, from tyme to tyme, and at all tymes herefier, well and aufficientlie save and keepe harmles and indempnified as well the saide fowre yardes of errable lance, conteyninge one hundred and seaven acres, and all other the premisses, with their appurtenaunces, before bargayned and solde, or mencioned or emended to be bargayned and solde, and everie parse and parcell therof, as also the saide William Shakespere, and his heires and assignee, and everie of them, of and from all former bargaynes, sales, leases, joyntures, cowers, wills, statutes, recognizances, writinges obligatorie, fynes, feoffamentes, entayles, judgmentes, execucions, charges, titles, for[eytures and encombrances whatsoever, at any tyme before the ensealinge herof, had, made, knowledged, done or suffred by the saide John Combe, or by the saide William Combe, or either of them, or by any other person or persons whatsoever, any thinge lawfullye clayminge or havinge, from, by or under them, or either of them, the rentes and services herafter to be due, in respect of the premisses b efore mencioned or entem:led to be bargayned and solde, to the cheife lorde or lordes of the fee or fees onlie excepted and foreprized. And the saide William Combe and John Combe, for them, their heires, executors, administrators and assignee, doe covenant, promise and graunte to and with the saide William Shakespere, his heires and assignee, by theis presentes, that they, the saide William and John Combe, or one of them, hathe right, full power and lawfull aucthoritie for any acte or actes done by them, the saide William and John Combe, or by the sufferance or procurement of them, the saide William and John Combe, to geve, graunte, bargayne, sell, convey and assure the saide fowre yardes of errable lance, conteyninge one hundred and seaven acres, and all other the premisses before by theis presentes bargayned and solde, or ment or mencioned to be bargayned and solde, and everie parse and parcell therof, to the saide William Shakespere, his heires and assignee, in suche manner and forme as in and by theis presentes is Iymytted, expressed, and declared; and that they, the saide William and John Combe, and their heires, and also all and everie other person and persons, and their heires, nowe or herafter havinge or clayminge any lawfull estate righte, title or interest, of, in or to the saide errable lance, and all other the premisses before by theis presentes bargayned and solde, with their and everie of their appurtenaunces,-other then the cheife lorde or lordes of the fee or fees of the premisses, for their rentes and services only,-at all tymes herafter, duringe the space of fyve yeares next ensewinge the date herof, shall doe, cause, knowledge and suffer to be done and knowledged, all and every suche further lawfull and reasonable acte and actes, thinge and thinges, devise and devises, conveyances and assurances whatsoever, for the further, more better and perfect assurance, suretie, sure makinge and conveyinge of all the saide premisses before bargayned and solde, or mencioned to be bargayned and solde, with their appurtenaunces, and everie parse and parcell therof, to the saide William Shakespere, his heires and assignee, for ever, accordinge to the true entent and meaninge of theis presentes, as by the saide William Shakespere, his heires and assignee, or his or their learned counsell in the lawe, shal be reasonablye devized or advized, and required, be yt bye fyne or fynes with proclamacion, recoverye with voucher or vouchers over, deede or deedes enrolled, enrollment of theis presentes, feoffament, releaze, coufirmacion or otherwise; with warrantie against the saide William Combe and John Combe, their heires and assignee, and all other persons clayminge by, from or under them, or any of them, or without warrantie, at the costes and charges in the lawe of the saide William Shakespere, his heires, executors administrators or assignes, so as, for the makinge of any suche estate or assurance, the saide William and John Combe be not compeld to travell above sixe myles. And the saide William Combe and John Combe, for them, their heires, executors, administrators and assignes, doe covenant, promise and graunt to and with the saide William Shakespere, his heires, executors administrators and assignes by theis presentes, that the saide William Shakespere, his heires and assignes, shall or may from tyme to tyme, from henceforth for ever peaceably and quietlye have, holde, occupie, possesse and enjoye the saide fowre yardes of errable lande, and all the other bargayned premisses, with their appurtenaunces, and everie parse and parcell therof, without any manner of lett, trouble or eviccion of them, the saide William Comb and John Combe, their heires or assignee; and without the lawfull lett, trouble or eviccion of any other person or persons whatsoever, lawfullie havinge or clayminge any thinge in, of or out of the saide premisses, or an part therof, by, from or under them, the salde William Combe and John Combe, or either of them, or the heires or assignes of them, or either of them, or their or any of their estate, title or interest. In wytnes wherof the parties to theis presentes have enterchangeably sette their handes and seales, the daie and yeare first above written, 1602. — W Combe. — Jo. Combe. — Sealed and delivered to Gilbert Shakespere, to the use of the within-named William Shakespere, in the presence of Anthony Nasshe, William Sheldon, Humfrey Maynwaringe, Rychard Mason, Jhon Nashe.
(Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Records Office, MS. ER 27/1) (handwritten) (EKC II, 107 (part); HP II, 17 (full); SS 189, with facs.)
10. 1602 Sep 28 Transfer of copyhold title of a quarter-acre of land with a cottage and garden (Chapel Lane Cottage) from Walter Getley:
Rowington. Visus franci plegii cum curia baronis prenobilis domine Anne Comitisse Warwici ibidem tentus xxviijo die Septembris anno regni domine nostre Elizabethe Dei gracia Anglie Francie et Hibernie regine fidei defensoris etc. quadragesimo quarto coram Henrico Michell generoso deputato senescallo Johannis Huggeford armigeri capitalis senescalli ibidem…. Ad hanc curiam venit Walterus Getley, per Thomam Tibbottes iuniorem attornatum suum unum customariorum tenencium manerii predicti (predictoThomaTibbottes iurato pro veritate inde) et sursumreddidit in manus domine manerii predicti vnum cotagium cum pertinenciis scituatum iacens et existens in Stratford super Avon, in quodam vico ibidem vocato Walkers Streete alias Dead Lane, ad opus et vsum Willielmi Shackespere et heredum suorum imperpetuum, secundum consuetudinem manerii predicti, Et sic remanet in manibus domine manerii predicti, quousque predictus Willielmus Shakespere venerit ad capiendum premissa predicta. In cujus rei testimonium predictus Henricus Michell huic presenti copie sigillum suum apposuit die et anno supradictis. Per me Henricum Michell.
(Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Records Office, MS. ER 28/1). (handwritten) (EKC II, 111; SS 191, with facs.)
11. 1602 Michealmas Term Extract from Foot of Fine for the transfer of New Place from Hercules Underhill to Shakspere:
Inter Willielmum Shakespeare generosum querentem et Herculem Underhill generosum deforciantem, de uno mesuagio duobus horreis duobus gardinis et duobus pomariis cum pertinenciis in Stretford-super-Avon.
(handwritten) (EKC II, 96; SS 175, with facs.)
[1603 Listed as having then acted in Ben Jonson’s Sejanus. See listing under 1616.]
12. 1603 From “A Mourneful Dittie, entituled Elizabeths Loss” (Anonymous):
You Poets all braue Shakspeare, Johnson, Greene,
Bestow your time to write for Englands Queene.
Lament, lament, lament you English Peeres,
Lament your losse possest so many yeeres.
Returne your songs and Sonnets and your sayes:
To set forth sweet Elizabeths praise.
(printed) (EKC II, 212)
13. 1603 Q1 of Hamlet. William Shake-speare on title page. (printed by Valentine Simmes for Nicholas Ling and John Trundell) (EKC I, 408)
14a. 1603 May 17-18 Warrants for letters patent authorizing:
“William Shakespeare…and the rest of theire Assosiates freely to use and exercise the Arte and faculty of playinge Comedies Tragedies histories Enterludes moralls pastoralls Stageplaies and suche others like as theie have alreadie studied or hereafter shall use or studie aswell for the recreation of our lovinge Subjectes as for our Solace and pleasure when wee shall thincke good to see them duringe our pleasure…”
(Public Record Office, Privy Seal Office, Warrants for the Privy Seal, P.S.O. 2/22; and Public Record Office, Chancery, Warrants for the Great Seal, C. 82/1690). (handwritten) (HP II, 82; SS 197, with facs.)
14b. 1603 May 19 Royal letters patent creating the King’s Men:
Wee…doe licence and aucthorize thise our Servauntes Lawrence Fletcher, William Shakespeare, Richard Burbage, Augustyne Phillippes, Iohn Heninges, Henrie Condell, William Sly, Robert Armyn, Richard Cowley, and the rest of theire Assosiates freely to vse and execise the Arte and faculty of playing Comedies, Tragedies, histories, Enterludes, moralls, pastoralls, Stageplaies and Suche others like as theie haue alreadie studied or hereafter shall vse or studie aswell for the recreation of our lovinge Subjectes as for our Solace and pleasure when wee shall thincke good to see them duringe our pleasure.
(Public Record Office, Chancery, Patent Rolls, C. 66/1608, m. 4). (handwritten) (EKC II, 72; SS 196, 197, with facs.)
15. 1603-1616 Endorsement on lease of property east of New Place; Stratford. “The barne on the west sid bounds by Mr William Shaxpeare of Pynley Holt, and on the est side on the Kinges land.” (handwritten) (EKC II, 96)
16. 1604 From the “Epistle” to Daiphantus, or the Passions of Love by Anthony Scoloker
It should be like the Neuer-too-well read Arcadia, where the Prose and Verce (Matter and Words) are like his Mistresses eyes, one still excelling another and without Coriuall: or to come home to the vulgars Element, like Friendly Shakespeare’s Tragedies, where the Commedian rides, when the Tragedian stands on Tip-toe: Faith it should please all, like Prince Hamlet. But in sadnesse, then it were to be feared he would runne mad: Insooth I will not be Moone-sicke, to please: nor out of my wits though I displeased all.
(printed) (EKC II, 214)
17. 1604 Q3 of Henry the Fourth, Part One. W. Shake-speare on title page. (printed by Valentine Simmes for Matthew Law) (EKC I, 376)
18. 1604 Q2 of Hamlet. William Shakespeare on title page. Spelling changed from Q1. (printed by James Roberts for Nicholas Ling) (EKC I, 408)
19. 1604 Suit brought in Stratford against the apothecary Philip Rogers for 35s 10d.
Stretford Burgus. R. Willielmus Shexpere per attornatum suum Willielmum Thetherton versus Phillipum Rogers de placito debiti.
Phillipus Rogers summonitus fuit per servientes ad clavam ibidem ad respondendum Willielmo Shexpere de placito quod reddat ei triginta et quinque solidos decem denarios quos ei debet et injuste detinet…
(Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Records Office, MS. ER 27/5) (handwritten) (EKC II, 113 (part); HP II, 77 (full); facs. SS, 182)
[***1604 Court depositions given later indicate Shakspere was staying in the house of Christopher Mountjoy Cripplegate ward, an enclave within the north-east corner of London. See Listings under 1612.]
20. 1604 Mar 15 On a list of “actors who each received 4 1/2 yards of scarlet cloth at the King’s cost to provide a uniform for the Royal Procession through London. William Shakespeare (Pub. Record Office, L. C. 4/5, London) (From Account of Sir George Home, Master of the Great Wardrobe, for the Proceeding of King James through London; R.O. Chamberlain’s Books) (handwritten) (EKC II, 73; facs. SS, 199)
21. 1604 May 22 (registered) From Epigrames by John Cooke.
. . . some other humbly craues
For helpe of Spirits in their sleeping graues,
As he that calde to Shakespeare, Iohnson, Green,
To write of their dead noble Queene.
(printed) (EKC II, 212)
22. 1604 Oct 24 A survey of Rowington Manor that relates to Chapel Lane cottage: “William Shakespere Lykewise holdeth one cottage and one garden by estimation a quarter of one acre and payeth rent yearly ijs vjd.” (Public Record Office, Exchequer, Special Commission, E. 178/4661). (handwritten) (EKC II, 112; SS 191, with facs.)
Direct Shakspere docs (8). Literary (6). Literary-related (5).
Though these years note many more references in all three categories, there is no document at this time that connects any of them directly. (Note: The transcript under 1700 that is related to document 7 lists Shakspere as a player. This strongly links Shakspere to the Actor.) None of the documents noting the Actor mention him as a playwright. John Manningham’s diary entry would be a likely place, yet strangely, although he makes a point of noting that the Actor’s name is “William” to accentuate the punchline, he does not write of him in such a way as to link him to the mention earlier of Twelfth Night or The Comedy of Errors. All of the Shakspere references are strictly business, centering primarily around land acquisition, which in one case exceeds £300. It’s unclear where he acquired such a sum, since the professions of player and playwright were normally considered as less than lucrative at this time.
Another emerging pattern is in the names. All hyphenated names only appear in literary documents. If hyphenation were without some meaning, we would expect them to appear in the other two categories as well, yet so far all seven hyphenated names are tied strictly to the author. Furthermore, the literary names are almost uniformly “Shakespeare”. The Shakspere names are clearly variants with the “x” form exclusive to Shakspere. The names for the Actor tend both ways. One can easily see why scholars would strongly want to link the Actor to both Shakspere and Shakespeare, but there is, at this point in our chronology, no positive evidence that any or all are the same man.
Finally, the author Shakespeare is called on in 1603 and 1604 to write of Elizabeth’s death, and yet he does not. Oxford died in mid-1604.
The only certain documentary biography up to this point in the chronology:
William Shakspere lived in Stratford and was baptized April 26, 1564. His father’s name was John, and he was married to Anne Hathway. His daughter Susanna was baptized May 26, 1583. His son Hamnet and daughter Judith were baptized Feb 2, 1585. Hamnet was buried August 11, 1596. A family coat of arms was granted to John Shakspeare in October 1596. Shakspere bought New Place in Stratford for £60. He defaulted on his taxes in 1597, 1598, 1599, and 1600. He showed an interest in investing in some property near Stratford. In February 1598 he held 80 bushels of corn during a grain shortage. Later that year Richard Quiney asked him for a loan of £30 for him and Abraham Sturley. He may have sued John Clayton in 1600. In 1601 he is mentioned in Thomas Shottington’s will, and in 1602 he seems to have been listed as one of the base persons who was improperly elevated with the granting of arms. He has also acquired three properties valued at over £300. In 1603-1604, two more records indicated matters relating to his properties.
William Shakespeare the poet wrote Venus and Adonis and Lucrece and dedicated both to the Earl of Southampton. He was recognized by two literary individuals as the fine poet of Lucrece. In 1597 and 1598 several plays were published: Richard 3; Richard 2; Henry IV, Part 1; Love’s Labour’s Lost. He was praised as the poet of V&A, Lucrece, and privately circulated sonnets. Meres praised him as eloquent, passionate, so strongly influenced by Ovid as to be the soul of Ovid reincarnated, the best for comedy and tragedy, and the best lyric poet. He is acknowledged by the literati as the author of Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and perhaps Anthony and Cleopatra. In 1600 he is acknowledged as the writer of A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream; Much Ado About Nothing; Henry IV, Part 2; and The Merchant of Venice. In 1601 he is mentioned as author of The Phoenix and the Turtle and as being listed in England’s Helicon. In 1602 he credited as the author of The Merry Wives of Windsor, in 1603 as the author of Hamlet, and in 1604 as the author of Henry IV, Part One. In 1603 he is mentioned in a poem with other poets, and in 1604 in an epigramme apparently based on the previous year’s poem. In 1604 his tragedies and comedies are mentioned.
The Actor was paid for performing comedies and interludes with fellow actors William Kempe and Richard Burbage as one of the Lord Chamberleyne’s Men. He was also named in a lawsuit as one who was a mortal threat to the complainant. He seems to have had a financial interest in the Globe with his fellow Burbage. In 1601 he is named with Burbage on papers related to the transfer of the Globe and other properties. In 1602 he is mentioned in a diary that records a joke on his name. In 1603 he is named in two documents relating to the creation of the King’s Men. And in 1604 he is listed as receiving red cloth.
|Shakspere (Stratford)||Shakespeare (Author)||Shakespeare (Actor)|
|1601||3. Shaxspere||1. Shake-speare
|1603||15. Shaxpeare||12. Shakspeare
1564-92 | 1593-96 | 1597-1600 | 1601-04 | 1605-08 | 1609-12 | 1613-16 | After 1616
If you see any need for updates, please email me at: