A Brief Chronology of Shakespeare's Life and Work

(Some dates are approximate, especially those of the plays.)

1509-47Reign of Henry VIII
1534Act of Supremacy, declaring Henry VIII head of the Church of England
1547-53Reign of Edward VI
1553-58Reign of Mary I. Return to Catholicism
1558-1603Reign of Elizabeth I
1563Adoption of the Thirty-Nine Articles
1564William Shakespeare born April 23
1569Northern Catholic rebellion suppressed
1576James Burbage builds The Theatre
1578John Lyly, Euphues
1579Edmund Spenser, The Shepheardes Calendar
1582Shakespeare's marriage to Anne Hathaway, November
1583Birth of Susanna, May 26
1583-84Plots against Elizabeth on behalf of Mary Queen of Scots
1584John Lyly, Galatea
1585Births of Shakespeare's son Hamnet and his twin sister Judith, February 2.
Earl of Leicester sent to aid the Dutch against the Spanish
1587Execution of Mary Queen of Scots February 8
1588At some point, Shakespeare moves to London; family remains in Stratford
War with Spain. The Spanish Armada fleet destroyed in July
1588-94Shakespeare writes the early comedies and histories and the early tragedy Titus Andronicus
1590Thomas Lodge, Rosalynde; Philip Sidney, Arcadia; Spenser, Faerie Queene, Books 1-3
1592Shakespeare attacked in print by Robert Greene
1593Venus and Adonis
1593-1603The Sonnets
1594Shakespeare joins the Lord Chamberlain's Men; The Rape of Lucrece
1594-5A Midsummer Night's Dream, Richard II, Romeo and Juliet
1596-8The Merchant of Venice, Henry IV Parts I and II
1597Earl of Essex sent to Ireland to put down a rebellion led by the Earl of Tyrone; George Chapman, An Humorous Day's Mirth
1598Jonson, Every Man in His Humour
1598-9Much Ado About Nothing, The Merry Wives of Windsor
1599Shakespeare's company moves to the Globe. As You Like It, Henry V, Julius Caesar
Prohibition and public burning of satires
1600-02Twelfth Night, Troilus and Cressida, Hamlet, All's Well That Ends Well
1601Shakespeare's father dies
Essex's abortive rebellion and his execution; T. Dekker, Satiromastix;
Jonson, Poetaster; the "Poet's War"
1603Shakespeare's company the Chamberlain's Men becomes the King's Men
Death of Elizabeth I; coronation of James I, March 24
1603-4Measure for Measure, Othello
1604James's confrontation of the Puritans at the Hampton Court Conference. Peace with Spain.
1605The Gunpowder Plot foiled November 5
1605-6King Lear
1606-7Macbeth, Timon of Athens, Antony and Cleopatra, Pericles
1609-11Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale, The Tempest
1613-14Henry VIII, The Two Noble Kinsmen
Shakespeare in retirement, living in Stratford. Globe burns
1616Death of Shakespeare, April 23