Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: David Bevington
Peer Reviewed


A Brief Chronology of Shakespeare's Life and Work

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

1 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40
1509-47 Reign of Henry VIII
1534 Act of Supremacy, declaring Henry VIII head of the Church of England
1547-53 Reign of Edward VI
1553-58 Reign of Mary I. Return to Catholicism
1558-1603 Reign of Elizabeth I
1563 Adoption of the Thirty-Nine Articles
1564 William Shakespeare born April 23
1569 Northern Catholic rebellion suppressed
1576 James Burbage builds The Theatre
1578 John Lyly, Euphues
1579 Edmund Spenser, The Shepheardes Calendar
1582 Shakespeare's marriage to Anne Hathaway, November
1583 Birth of Susanna, May 26
1583-84 Plots against Elizabeth on behalf of Mary Queen of Scots
1584 John Lyly, Galatea
1585 Births of Shakespeare's son Hamnet and his twin sister Judith, February 2.
Earl of Leicester sent to aid the Dutch against the Spanish
1587 Execution of Mary Queen of Scots February 8
1588 At some point, Shakespeare moves to London; family remains in Stratford
War with Spain. The Spanish Armada fleet destroyed in July
1588-94 Shakespeare writes the early comedies and histories and the early tragedy Titus Andronicus
1590 Thomas Lodge, Rosalynde; Philip Sidney, Arcadia; Spenser, Faerie Queene, Books 1-3
1592 Shakespeare attacked in print by Robert Greene
1593 Venus and Adonis
1593-1603 The Sonnets
1594 Shakespeare joins the Lord Chamberlain's Men; The Rape of Lucrece
1594-5 A Midsummer Night's Dream, Richard II, Romeo and Juliet
1596-8 The Merchant of Venice, Henry IV Parts I and II
1597 Earl of Essex sent to Ireland to put down a rebellion led by the Earl of Tyrone; George Chapman, An Humorous Day's Mirth
1598 Jonson, Every Man in His Humour
1598-9 Much Ado About Nothing, The Merry Wives of Windsor
1599 Shakespeare's company moves to the Globe. As You Like It, Henry V, Julius Caesar
Prohibition and public burning of satires
1600-02 Twelfth Night, Troilus and Cressida, Hamlet, All's Well That Ends Well
1601 Shakespeare's father dies
Essex's abortive rebellion and his execution; T. Dekker, Satiromastix;
Jonson, Poetaster; the "Poet's War"
1603 Shakespeare's company the Chamberlain's Men becomes the King's Men
Death of Elizabeth I; coronation of James I, March 24
1603-4 Measure for Measure, Othello
1604 James's confrontation of the Puritans at the Hampton Court Conference. Peace with Spain.
1605 The Gunpowder Plot foiled November 5
1605-6 King Lear
1606-7 Macbeth, Timon of Athens, Antony and Cleopatra, Pericles
1608 Coriolanus
1609-11 Cymbeline, The Winter's Tale, The Tempest
1613-14 Henry VIII, The Two Noble Kinsmen
Shakespeare in retirement, living in Stratford. Globe burns
1616 Death of Shakespeare, April 23