A Midsummer Night's Dream 1595
I have to agree with Oxfordian guru Roger Stritmatter that there is an incredible amount of HooHa associated with the dating of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Unfortunately, large amounts of it are entirely attributable to him. In an essay of the subject, his first paragraph dismisses all prior scholarship on the matter with a breathtaking mixture arrogance and pretension.Selva oscura, he calls it, quoting Dante. Yet within 15 lines he is writing and supporting fantasies about topical(!) and biographical similarities identifying a "a pervasive topical undercurrent in the play relating to the French marriage negotiations of 1578-81." We leave you to guess what the connection might be.
He guesses that it was written for a wedding, then plays 'Guess the Wedding' and guesses it might have been the wedding of Oxford's daughter to the future Earl of Derby. Well surprise, surprise.
This, however, ties it back to the 1590s so Dr Stritmatter simply decides to have his cake and eat it too. So after three more pages kicking up the selva oscura the good Doctor concludes "A balanced consideration of the relevant evidence suggests the great likelihood that the extant text of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a revised palimpsest containing at least two strata of composition, one from the early 1580s as Eva Turner Clark argues, and another from the mid-1590s as argued by orthodox authorities." having presented no textual-based evidence to support either statement whatsoever, he plants one foot in each camp and claims to have proved there is more to Oxfordian dating than meets the eye.
This is a little bit like proving Shakespeare was illiterate by analysing his handwriting.
Since there is precisely zero evidence supporting his first strata of composition, (and a stack of evidence and scholarship indicating the contrary) we are fairly safe in slinging out his 'revised palimpsest' nonsense and joining the rest of the Shakespearean world, putting the play where it belongs, in the mid 1590s.
- First official record: Francis Meres' Palladis Tamia (1598)
- First published: in quarto in November or December 1600
- First recorded performance:
- Evidence: Lacking though the title-page of the first quarto of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, published 1600, states that the play ‘hath been sundry times publickley acted’ by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. Its first public performances were probably at the Theatre.
- It was entered on the Stationers’ Register by Thomas Fisher on 8 October 1600 then printed for him by Richard Braddock that same year. The second quarto appeared with the imprint ‘printed by Iames Roberts’ dated 1600. It was, in fact, one of a group of ten plays printed by William Jaggard for Thomas Pavier in 1619. These were apparently intended to form a collection of plays attributed to Shakespeare. The King’s Men may have protested against Pavier’s intentions, for the Lord Chamberlain subsequently wrote to the Stationers’ Company demanding that no more plays belonging to them should be printed except with their consent.
- Full text of play