Dating Shakespeare’s Plays

Published by the de vere society

The DATING PROJECT was set up by The de Vere Society to review objectively the primary evidence cited in support of dating the plays of ‘Shakespeare’. Anti-Oxfordians attempt to use dates to ‘prove’ the author was not Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford who died in 1604, by claiming that certain of the plays were written after that date. Since Oxford is a candidate for authorship of the great works, this inquiry is important as there is no contemporary evidence to date definitively the composition of any play. The scholarly consensus about the dates and order in which Shakespeare composed his plays is largely speculative.

The best evidence available for dating the plays has been gathered by The de Vere Society and presented in Dating Shakespeare’s Plays (first published 2010), edited by Dr. Kevin Gilvary. Visit our sister website Dating Shakespeare’s Plays for more information and links to a detailed analysis of each individual Shakespeare play, plus four others, to establish the crucial date range for every play.

Each play has been reviewed based on the best evidence available for dating, and also on every argument used in support of a preferred date. This includes: (i) the date of a play’s composition, or (ii) its earliest performance or (iii) its first publication. Each play is considered in relation to:
  • Publication data (Stationers’ Register, title pages, etc.)
  • Performance data (Revels’ Accounts, Henslowe’s Diary, etc.)
  • Dates of sources (both probable and possible)
  • Allusions to the play (contemporary accounts, diaries, poems, etc.)
  • The updated findings of Martin Wiggins and Catherine Richardson (eds.) in their series British Drama: A Catalogue (2012-2018)
  • The research and contribution of many eminent Oxfordian scholars
The best evidence available for dating the plays has been gathered by The de Vere Society and presented in Dating Shakespeare’s Plays (first published 2010), edited by Dr. Kevin Gilvary. Visit our sister website Dating Shakespeare’s Plays for more information and links to a detailed analysis of each individual Shakespeare play, plus four others, to establish the crucial date range for every play.