Welcome to the Shakespeare Timeline! It was produced by hosting a Shakespeare-a-thon to crowdsource a timeline of Shakespeare's life - all the major events, performances and publications as well as lots of historical context. All stories are added by English students and staff.

1250-04-01 00:00:00

Brut y Brenhinedd

The earliest manuscript of Brut y Brenhinedd, a chronicle of British history which contains the figures of King Llyr and his daughters Gonerylla, Ragan and Cordeylla.

1552-04-01 00:00:00

William's father, John Shakespeare, moves to Stratford-upon-Avon

1555-05-01 00:00:00

William's wife, Anne Hathaway born

1558-03-01 00:00:00

Elizabeth I is crowned

1564-04-26 16:56:45

Shakespeare is baptised

Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon. He was probably born on 21, 22, or 23 April 1564.

1579-04-01 00:00:00

Death of Katherine Hamlet

When Shakespeare was 16, local girl Katherine Hamlet drowned in a river in Stratford, either by accident, or by suicide. Edgar Fripp claims this was inspiration for Ophelia.

1579-05-01 00:00:00

Anne Shakespeare dies

Shakespeare's sister, Anne, dies aged seven.

1582-03-01 00:00:00

Anne Hathaway pregnancy

'Wild and innocent' eighteen-year old Shakespeare got the orphan Anne Hathaway pregnant, at the age of 26.

1583-05-26 00:00:00

Baptism of Shakespeare's first child

Shakeapere's first child, Susana, was baptised. This was followed by the baptism of Shakespeare's twins, Hamnet and Judith on 2nd February 1585. Hamnet died just 11 years later.

1585-02-02 00:00:00

Baptism of twins

Baptism of William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway's twin son and daughter, Hamnet and Judith Shakespeare.

1588-07-31 15:56:59

Arrival of Spanish Armada

The threat of invasion by Spain loomed large for much of Elizabeth I's reign, culminating in the launch of the Armada in 1588. The failure of this attack enhanced the queen's popularity with her people, but did great damage to the standing of Philip II.

1590-04-01 00:00:00

First recorded theatrical representation of Shakespeares work

First recorded theatrical representation of Titus Andronicus, The Comedy of Errors, The Taming of the Shrew and The Two Gentlemen of Verona

1591-03-01 00:00:00

Writing of Romeo and Juliet

It is unknown precisely when Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet, but context provided in the play, as well as its stylistic similarities to A Midsummer Night's Dream, would suggest that it was written between 1591 and 1595.

1591-04-01 00:00:00

Outbreaks of plague

Theatres were closed from the summer of 1592 due to outbreaks of plague which came to a head.

1593-03-01 00:00:00

Venus and Adonis is published

Printed by Richard Field (b. 1561), who had also come to London from Stratford upon Avon.

1594-03-01 00:00:00

Shakespeare becomes shareholder of the Lord Chamberlain's Men

In 1594 Shakespeare became a shareholder in the Lord Chamberlain's Men, one of the most popular acting companies in London. He remained a member of this company for the rest of his career, often playing before the court of Queen Elizabeth I. The company had several homes around London before the actor, Richard Burbage, and his brother Cuthbert built the Globe Theatre on the south bank of the Thames, which became its permanent home. The company was also run by the Burbages and four other shareholders. It was highly commercially successful, making the partners rich. The shareholders often acted as well. Shakespeare is said to have acted in minor roles - one theory holds that he played the ghost of Hamlet's father.

1595-12-01 00:00:00

Eminence as an actor

Named as joint leader (with Richard Burbage) of the Lord Chamberlain's Men in their accounts. And in 1596, his father John was granted a coat of arms, "presumably at the instance of his successful son" (Greer).

1596-03-01 00:00:00

Bought house in Stratford

From now on Shakespeare figures frequently in the Stratford records - as a prosperous citizen.

1596-08-09 00:00:00

Death of Hamnet

Shakespeare's only son, Hamnet, died on this day, at the age of 11.

1598-05-01 00:00:00

Shakespeare and other members of the company finance the building of the Globe Theatre

Shakespeare and other members of the company finance the building of the Globe Theatre

1598-09-01 20:00:00

Bar brawl in Shoreditch inspires Shakespeare?

Shakespeare's play-writing pal, hot-headed Christopher Marlowe, has a little too much to drink and gets into a brawl in a pub in Shoreditch. Swords are drawn and inn-keeper William Bradley dies from stab-wounds!!! Does this real-life gory drama inspire Shakespeare's on-scene duels later on?

1598-12-01 00:00:00

Richard III Q2

Second quarto published, with Shakespeare's name on the title page. "We may perhaps infer that by 1598, Shakespeare's name was recognised by publishers as a selling point." (Greer)

1598-12-01 00:00:00


According to Greer ("Shakespeare: a very short introduction"), "in 1598 Shakespeare's reputation as poet, player, and playwright reached its zenith." Francis Meres and Richard Barnfield wrote in high praise of Shakespeare's work.

1599-04-01 00:00:00

Globe theatre built

The Chamberlain's Men build the Globe, a wooden theater in London. Many of Shakespeare's most famous plays are performed for the first time here, including Othello and King Lear

1599-04-01 00:00:00

'As You Like It' written

1600-04-23 00:00:00

Hamlet produced

1600-04-23 00:00:00

Hamlet first written

Hamlet has been dated to 1600 although iShakespeare appears t have added some topical references in 1601. The date is given because the play was omitted from Francis Meres' list of Shakespeare's plays in 1598, but included in the Stationers' Register in 1602. The play also evidently influenced John Marston's 'Antonio's Revenge', which can be more precisely dated 1600-1.

1603-03-24 00:00:00

Elizabeth I dies

1603-04-23 00:00:00

Hamlet First Quarto

A 'bad' quarto, copied from a manuscript believed to be written from memorial reconstruction by actors. The actor playing the minor role of Marcellus is generally agreed to be responsible for this quarto.

1603-05-01 00:00:00

James VI becomes James I of England

The son of Mary Queen of Scots, James becomes King of England, having been King of Scotland since 1567.

1603-05-01 00:00:00

Measure for measure

Enter story info here

1604-04-01 00:00:00

Hamlet 2nd Quarto

A 'good' quarto, printed from a manuscript believed to be from Shakespeare's foul papers. Printed over the new year period, so dated both 1604 and 1605

1604-04-01 00:00:00

Westward Ho!

Westward Ho! (Decker and Middleton) performed by Paul's Company

1604-12-26 00:00:00

First recorded performance of Measure for Measure

1605-11-05 00:00:00

Gunpowder Plot

Guy Fawkes and his posse plan to blow up Parliament with a huge explosion.

1608-12-01 00:00:00

King's Men recover Blackfriars

The King's Men recover the lease on the Blackfriars Theatre, previously owned by James Burbage where his boy players performed. Serves as winter quarters for the company, and provides a more intimate style of theatre; it is closer to the masques and pageants which had enthralled the courts previously.

1609-04-01 00:00:00

Hamlet performed in South East Asia

Hamlet performed in South East Asia (today's Indonesia)

1609-05-01 00:00:00

Shakespeare's Sonnets first published

1611-03-01 00:00:00

Blackfriars: Winter's Tale and The Tempest

At the Blackfriars, The Tempest and The Winter's Tale are played to the King. This has obvious success, as he has them revived two years later for the marriage celebrations of Elizabeth Stuart and the Elector Palatine, along with Othello.

1611-04-11 00:00:00

First performance of Macbeth

The first recorded performance of Macbeth took place at the Globe theatre in London. The text was first printed in 1612.

1611-09-01 20:00:00

Hamlet 3rd Quarto

Printed from the 2nd Quarto.

1611-11-05 20:00:00

First recorded performance of The Winter's Tale

1612-04-01 00:00:00

Pendle witches hanged

Nine women and two men accused of witchcraft in Lancashire, ten are found guilty and hung.

1614-02-04 00:00:00

His brother Richard is buried at Stratford

1614-05-01 00:00:00

Second Globe Theatre built

1615-04-26 00:00:00

Lawsuit concerning Blackfriars Theatre

Shakepeare drew up a bill of compliant against Matthew Bacon who was alleged to have detained certain " letters patent, deeds, evidences, charters, and writings," concerning the title of Shakespeare and others plaintiffs to various houses "within the precinct of Blackfriars in the city of Lgndon." This piece of legislation shows Shakespeare to be actively interested in his business and property ventures in the city during the last year of his life.

1616-04-23 00:00:00

Shakespeare dies

Shakespeare dies, leaving his wife his 'second-best bed' - some have argued that this would have been the marital bed. Was this a demeaning gesture, or one of tenderness?

1622-12-01 00:00:00

Hamlet 4th Quarto

Printed from the 3rd quarto. The titlepage is undated but 1622 has been suggested by scholars.

1623-04-01 00:00:00

First Folio published

The first collected edition of Shakespeare's plays,published seven years after his death by two of Shakespeare’s colleagues, John Heminges and Henry Condell. Without it, half of Shakespeare’s plays would have been lost as they were not printed before appearing in the Folio. Thirty-six plays are included and two plays were left out – Pericles and The Two Noble Kinsmen.

1632-04-01 00:00:00

2nd Folio

Printed from the First Folio


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