The Merchant of Venice 1596
First official record: version of the play entered into the Stationers' Register on 22 July 1598
- First published: version of the play published in quarto in 1598 as The most excellent historie of the merchant of Venice. With the extreame crueltie of Shylocke the Jewe towards the sayd merchant, in cutting a just pound of his flesh: and the obtayning of Portia by the choyse of three chests
- First recorded performance: the play was performed at court for King James on 10 February 1605.
- Evidence: The play was obviously in existence by 1598, however, other evidence places its date of composition as earlier, probably 1596. Shakespeare's source for the casket
- subplot is believed to have been Richard Robinson's translation of the Gesta romanorum, which wasn't published until late 1595.
- The play shows the influence of Miles Mosse's tract The Arraignment and Conviction of Usury published in 1595
- Salarino's reference to "my wealthy Andrew docked in sand" is thought to refer to the San Andréas, a Spanish merchant vessel that ran aground in Essex in June 1596. It is also thought by scholars that the play was written to capitalise on the enormous success of Christopher Marlowe's The Jew of Malta.
SCENE I. Venice. A street.
- Full text of play