Dating Shakespeare’s Plays: A Critical Review of the Evidence

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This critical review challenges orthodox scholarly consensus on the order in which Shakespeare plays were composed and written; it reveals surprising discrepancies in date comparisons.

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Dating Shakespeare’s Plays edited by Kevin Gilvary. This critical review challenges the orthodox scholarly consensus about the order in which Shakespeare composed his plays and when they were written. It reveals surprising discrepancies in date comparisons. King John has been placed by scholars in every year of the decade up to 1598 and there are suggestions that Hamlet‘s date of 1602, could be as early as 1589.

In this authoritative book, evidence is reviewed methodically to produce a range of dates supported by in-depth analysis of aids to dating such as language, historical allusion, the testimony of title pages as well as works by other authors including Palladis Tamia, and the Stationers’ Register.

In considering Oxfordian dates, the intention is not to prove the Earl of Oxford’s authorship but the possibility of a range of earlier dates for each of the 36 plays in the First Folio, and four other plays which have been attributed to Shakespeare.

​Kevin Gilvary gained a BA and MA from the University of Southampton and his Doctorate in English Literature from Brunel University London.

 The book is a major comprehensive revision and re-envisioning of the Shakespeare chronology, but it does not set up a rigid chronology of its own. The new chronology is refreshingly diverse, like the world of Shakespeare authorship studies. … 

In bringing together all of the Oxfordian scholarship on the chronology for the first time, though the only alternative dates it includes are Oxfordian, Dating Shakespeare’s Plays is not dismissive of rival positions, and if anything it is polite and respectful to the orthodox. …

So, regardless of one’s position on the authorship question, Dating Shakespeare’s Plays is a most informative and useful book on a subject at the center of the Shakespeare labyrinth. It is not the last word, but rather an advantageous starting point. A historical review of scholarship organized as a reference work, it does not interpret or try to persuade readers that any proposed date is absolute, but systematically presents what scholars have projected, lets readers consider the possibilities, and raises important questions. There is a great deal packed into each of the play chapters in the 508 pages of Dating Shakespeare’s Plays

—William S. Niederkorn (taken from his review in The Brooklyn Rail)

See additional review by Donald Ostrowski in Brief Chronicles Vol. III (2011) HERE.


01 – 14: The Comedies

15 – 24: The Histories

25 – 36: The Tragedies

37 – 40: Other Plays



ISBN: 978-1-898594-86-4

Edition: Second Edition (2021)

Publisher: Portsea Press, Portsmouth

© The de Vere Society 2010, 2021

Number of pages: 508

Weight: 945 g

Dimensions: 235 mm x 155 mm x 20 mm



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Weight945 g
Dimensions235 × 155 × 20 mm