Much Ado About Nothing (1598–1599)

First official record: version of the play published in 1600 (this play was never entered into the Stationers' Register)

First published: Much adoe about Nothing was published in quarto in 1600

First recorded performance: 14 February 1613, performed at court as part of the festivities to celebrate the marriage of Princess Elizabeth of Bohemia and Frederick V, Elector Palatine

Evidence: The play was not included in Francis Meres' Palladis Tamia, which was registered on 7 September 1598, suggesting it hadn't been performed prior to that date. Furthermore, evidence in the quarto text suggests that Shakespeare originally wrote the role of Dogberry for William Kempe, however, records indicate that Kempe left the Lord Chamberlain's Men sometime in late 1598, so the play must have been written before then. As such, it was most likely composed sometime in the latter half of 1598 and was certainly completed before the new year.

 

ACT I

SCENE I. BEFORE LEONATO'S HOUSE.

 

 Enter LEONATO, HERO, and BEATRICE, with a Messenger

LEONATO

 I learn in this letter that Don Peter of Arragon
comes this night to Messina.

Messenger

 He is very near by this: he was not three leagues off
when I left him.

LEONATO

 How many gentlemen have you lost in this action?

Messenger

 But few of any sort, and none of name.

Full Text of Play