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Sources for the comedies

Click on the play to open a popup that summarizes the sources Shakespeare used in composing each play.

Footnotes

  1. The Comedy of Errors

    Sources:

    • Menaechmi, Plautus; translated by W. Warner (1595)
    • Amphitruo, Plautus -I.1, I.2, III.4, IV.1,2,3.

    Probable source:

    • Confessio Amantis, John Gower - Lib. 8
  2. The Taming of the Shrew

    Source:

    • Supposes, George Gascoigne (1566)

    Possible source:

    • The Taming of a Shrew, Unknown (1594)

    Analogue:

    • Thrésor d'histoires admirables et mémorable, S. Goulart; translated by E. Grimeston (1607)
  3. The Two Gentlemen of Verona

    Source:

    • Diana Enamorada, J. de Montemayor; translated by B. Yonge (1598) - Pt.1, Bk.II; Pt.1, Bk. VII

    Possible source:

    • The Governour, Sir Thomas Elyot (1531) - Bk. II Ch.XII (Titus and Gisippus)

    Analogues:

    • Euphues, The Anatomy of Wit, John Lyly (1579)
    • The Countesse of Pembroke's Arcadia, Sir Philip Sidney (1590) - Bk. II
    • Flavio TraditoComedia, Flamino Scala (1611)
  4. Love's Labor's Lost

    Analogues:

    • The French Academie, Pierre de La Pimaudaye; translated by T. B[owes](1586)
    • Gesta Grayorum (1688)

    Historical parallel:

    • The Chronicles of Enguerrand de Monstrelet
    • The History of the Civil Wars of France, H.C. Davila (1678) - Book Eight.
    • Travels of Sir Jerome Horsey in Russia at the Close of the Sixteenth Century; ed. E.A. Bond (1865)
  5. A Midsummer Night's Dream

    Source:

    • Metamorphoses, Ovid; translated by Arthur Golding 1575) - Book IV

    Probable sources:

    • Canterbury Tales [The Knight's Tale] by Geoffrey Chaucer.
    • "The Life of Theseus," Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans; translated by Sir Thomas North (1579)
    • Huon of Bourdeaux; translated by Lord Berners (c.1534)
    • The Discoverie of Witchcraft, by Reginald Scot (1584) - Bk.IV, Ch.X; Bk.VII,Ch.II,XV, Bk.V, Ch.III; Bk.XIII, Ch.XIX

    Possible sources:

    • The XI Bookes of the Golden Asse conteininge the Metamorphosie of Lucius Apuleius; translated by William Adlington. (1566) - Book II, Ch. 17
    • A Handefull of Pleasant Delites, Clement Robinson and divers others (1584)
    • Analogue:
    • Thesaurus Linguae Romanae et Britannicae, T. Cooper (1573 edn.) - (Midas, Pyramus)

    The Tragedy of Pyramus and Thisbe

  6. The Merchant of Venice

    Source:

    • The Jew of Malta, Christopher Marlowe (1633)

    Probable sources:

    • Il Pecorone, Ser Giovanni Fiorentino (1558) - Day 4, Story I
    • Il Novellino of Masuccio; translated by W.G. Waters (1895) - The Fourteenth Story
    • Gesta Romanorum; ed. Sir F. Madden (1838) - Story LXVI

    Possible sources:

    • Zelauto or The Fountain of Fame, Anthony Munday (1580) - Book III
    • Analogue:
    • The Three Ladies of London, R[obert]. W[ilson]. (1584)
    • The Orator, Alexander Silvayn; translated by L.P. (1596) - No. 95
    • Confessio Amantis, John Gower - Bk.V
  7. The Merry Wives of Windsor

    Probable source:

    • Metamorphoses, Ovid; translated by Arthur Golding (1567) - Book III, Lines 138-252

    Possible sources:

    • Tarltons Newes out of Purgatorie (1590) - "The Tale of the Two Lovers of Pisa"
    • Riche his Farewell to Militarie Profession, Barnaby Riche (1581) - "Of Two Brethren and their Wives"
    • Endimion,The Man in the Moone, John Lyly (1591) - Act IV, Sc.3

    Analogue:

    • Il Pecorone, Ser Giovanni Fiorentino (1558) - Giornata I, Novella II

    Account of a probable historical source:

    • Frederick Count Mompelgard in England (from J. Rathgeb's Journal, translated in England as Seen by Foreigners, W.B. Rye, 1865)

    Account of historical analogue:

    • The Governor of Dieppe in Trouble (Letter from Sir John Leveson)
  8. Much Ado About Nothing

    Probable source:

    • Orlando Furioso, Ludovico Ariosto; translated by Sir John Harington (1591) - Book V
    • The Faerie Queene, Edmund Spenser (1596) - Book II, Canto IV, Stanzas XVI to XXXVIII (The Story of Phedon)
    • La Prima Parte de le Novelle del Bandello, Lucca (1554) - Novella XXII

    Analogue:

    • Fedele and Fortunio, M.A.[Anthony Munday?] (1585)
  9. As You Like It

    Source:

    • Rosalynde, Thomas Lodge (1590)
    • Syr Clyomon and Clamydes, Anon. (1599)
  10. Twelfth Night

    Sources:

    • Riche his Farewell to Militarie Profession, Barnaby Riche (1581) - "Of Apolonius and Silla"
    • Probable source:
    • The Deceived (Gl'Ingannati), by the Academy of the Thunderstruck in Siena (1537)

    Probable historical sources:

    • A letter by Roland White to Sir Robert Sydney
    • Merry Passages and Jests, Sir Nicholas L'Estrange
    • Analogue:
    • Gl'Inganni (The Deceived) by Nicolò Secchi (1547)

    Summary of dramatic analogue:

    • L'Interesse (Interest), by Nicolò Secchi (1581)

    Possible source:

    • The Famous History of Parismus, b Emanuel Forde (1598) - "The Loves of Violetta"
  11. Troilus and Cressida

    Sources:

    • The Seaven Bookes of Homers Iliads; translated by George Chapman (1598)
    • The Iliads of Homer; translated by George Chapman (1611)
    • The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, Raoul Lefevre; translated by William Caxton (c. 1474)
    • Metamorphoses, Ovid; translated by Arthur Golding (1567) - Books XII - XIII

    Possible source:

    • The Hystorye Sege and Dystruccyon of Troye, John Lydgate (1513)

    Analogue:

    • The Testament of Cresseid, Robert Henryson (1593)
  12. All's Well That Ends Well

    Source:

    • The Palace of Pleasure, William Painter 1575) - Novel 38
  13. Measure for Measure

    Source:

    • Promos and Cassandra, George Whetstone (1578)
    • Probable source:
    • Hecatommithi, G.B. Giraldi Cinthio (1583) - Decade 8, Novella 5 (The Story of Epitia)

    Possible source:

    • Epitia, G.B. Giraldi Cinthio (1583)

    Analogues:

    • The Second part ...of the Boke entituled Too Good To be true, Thomas Lupton (1581)
    • The Adventures of Brusanus, Prince of Hungaria, Barnaby Riche (1592)
    • De Sermone Domini in Monte Secundum Matthaeum, Saint Augustine of Hippo - Book I, Chapter 16