The plays, in some semblance of order?
- First recorded performance & play title
1590-91 Henry VI, Part II
1590-91 Henry VI, Part III
1591-92 Henry VI, Part I
1592-93 Richard III
1592-93 Comedy of Errors
1593-94 Titus Andronicus
1593-94 Taming of the Shrew
1594-95 Two Gentlemen of Verona
1594-95 Love’s Labour’s Lost
1594-95 Romeo and Juliet
1595-96 Richard II
1595-96 A Midsummer Night’s Dream
1596-97 King John
1596-97 The Merchant of Venice
1597-98 Henry IV, Part I
1597-98 Henry IV, Part II
1598-99 Much Ado About Nothing
1598-99 Henry V
1599-1600 Julius Caesar
1599-1600 As You Like It
1599-1600 Twelfth Night
1600-01 The Merry Wives of Windsor
1601-02 Troilus and Cressida
1602-03 All’s Well That Ends Well
1604-05 Measure for Measure
1605-06 King Lear
1606-07 Antony and Cleopatra
1607-08 Timon of Athens
1610-11 The Winter’s Tale
1611-12 The Tempest
1612-13 Henry VIII
1612-13 The Two Noble Kinsmen
Alternative version of play order:
- The Two Gentlemen of Verona (1589–1591)
The Taming of the Shrew (1590–1591)
Henry VI, Part 2 (1591)
Henry VI, Part 3 (1591)
Henry VI, Part 1 (1591–1592)
Titus Andronicus (1591–1592)
Richard III (1592–1593)
Edward III (1592–1593)
The Comedy of Errors (1594)
Love’s Labour’s Lost (1594–1595)
Love’s Labour’s Won (1595–1596)
Richard II (1595)
Romeo and Juliet (1595)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1595)
King John (1596)
The Merchant of Venice (1596–1597)
Henry IV, Part 1 (1596–1597)
The Merry Wives of Windsor (1597)
Henry IV, Part 2 (1597–1598)
Much Ado About Nothing (1598–1599)
Henry V (1599)
Julius Caesar (1599)
As You Like It (1599–1600)
Twelfth Night (1601)
Troilus and Cressida (1600–1602)
Sir Thomas More (1592–1595, 1603–1604)
Measure for Measure (1603–1604)
All’s Well That Ends Well (1604–1605)
King Lear (1605–1606)
Timon of Athens (1605–1606)
Antony and Cleopatra (1606)
Pericles, Prince of Tyre (1607–1608)
The Winter’s Tale (1609–1611)
The Tempest (1610–1611)
Henry VIII (1612–1613)
The Two Noble Kinsmen (1613–1614)
It’s all — basically — academic. However, from an emotional point, as I was listening to the Henry VI parts again, and devling into some cursory web look–and–see research, I came across a link about the importance of a long soliloquy by Gloucester, soon to be Richard III, the infamous hunchback toad.
In my own mind, being so far from acadmic halls, these many years removed, I was recalling the order incorrectly, because it was so easy to hear Henry VI plays presaging a Richard III play. The language, the eloquence, it’s all in there.
There’s a long speech by Gloucester, Henry VI, part 3, Act III, scene 2, lines 124–95.
Easy to see the groundwork all in place, a foundation for an evil overloard’s empire.
- Well, it was going someplace.
I had a brilliant conclusion.
Because I listened to the plays, back–to–back, and because I wanted to make sure I was really familiar with The Tempest, I listened to it a second time, so its memory was fresh. There’s an echo with the structure of the language from the earlier plays to later plays, words, timing, diction, it just seems so apparent, although, the plays are from opposite ends of the playwright’s career.
So they say.
I made another pass at The Tempest because there’s a new app, backed by the great Sir Ian, making Shakespeare’s work more accessible. Line–by–line gloss, video, audio, just more interesting.
Which was why I doubled–back to The Tempest, making it fresh in my mind as the character King Henry VI rolled through his shambling stage presence.
From one accepted chronology of the plays, I thought I recalled that A Comedy of Errors came before Richard III — but current scholarship wasn’t suggesting that. My faulty memory. However, after listening to all three parts of Henry VI? For my — seems almost weekly recently — Austin commute? I wanted some comedy.
- Mabillard, Amanda. The Chronology of Shakespeare’s Plays. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2000.
Manet Richard of Gloucester:
Ay, Edward will use women honorably.
Would he were wasted, marrow, bones, and all,
That from his loins no hopeful branch may spring,
To cross me from the golden time I look for!
And yet, between my soul’s desire and me—
The lustful Edward’s title buried—
Is Clarence, Henry, and his son young Edward,
And all the unlook’d-for issue of their bodies
To take their rooms, ere I can place myself:
A cold premeditation for my purpose!
Why then I do but dream on sovereignty,
Like one that stands upon a promontory
And spies a far-off shore where he would tread,
Wishing his foot were equal with his eye,
And chides the sea that sunders him from thence,
Saying, he’ll lade it dry to have his way:
So do I wish the crown, being so far off,
And so I chide the means that keeps me from it,
And so, I say, I’ll cut the causes off,
Flattering me with impossibilities.
My eye’s too quick, my heart o’erweens too much,
Unless my hand and strength could equal them.
Well, say there is no kingdom then for Richard;
What other pleasure can the world afford?
I’ll make my heaven in a lady’s lap,
And deck my body in gay ornaments,
And witch sweet ladies with my words and looks.
O miserable thought! And more unlikely
Than to accomplish twenty golden crowns!
Why, love forswore me in my mother’s womb;
And for I should not deal in her soft laws,
She did corrupt frail nature with some bribe,
To shrink mine arm up like a wither’d shrub,
To make an envious mountain on my back,
Where sits deformity to mock my body;
To shape my legs of an unequal size,
To disproportion me in every part,
Like to a chaos, or an unlick’d bear-whelp
That carries no impression like the dam.
And am I then a man to be belov’d?
O monstrous fault, to harbor such a thought!
Then since this earth affords no joy to me
But to command, to check, to o’erbear such
As are of better person than myself,
I’ll make my heaven to dream upon the crown,
And whiles I live, t’ account this world but hell,
Until my misshap’d trunk that bears this head
Be round impaled with a glorious crown.
And yet I know not how to get the crown,
For many lives stand between me and home;
And I—like one lost in a thorny wood,
That rents the thorns, and is rent with the thorns,
Seeking a way, and straying from the way,
Not knowing how to find the open air,
But toiling desperately to find it out—
Torment myself to catch the English crown;
And from that torment I will free myself,
Or hew my way out with a bloody axe.
Why, I can smile, and murder whiles I smile,
And cry “Content” to that which grieves my heart,
And wet my cheeks with artificial tears,
And frame my face to all occasions.
I’ll drown more sailors than the mermaid shall,
I’ll slay more gazers than the basilisk,
I’ll play the orator as well as Nestor,
Deceive more slily than Ulysses could,
And like a Sinon, take another Troy.
I can add colors to the chameleon,
Change shapes with Proteus for advantages,
And set the murderous Machevil to school.
Can I do this, and cannot get a crown?
Tut, were it farther off, I’ll pluck it down.
Shakespeare’s Henry VI, part 3, Act III, scene 2, lines 124–95