The Two Gentlemen of Verona 1589–1591
For many, Shakespeare's first effort. We're not committed. It's an early play as far as all stylometry tests are concerned and is famously used to prove Shakespeare went to Italy. Yet Shakespeare's Italy maps almost exactly onto the Italy of John Florio, not the Earl of Oxford. For example this play contains a series of geographical howlers and shows complete ignorance of the fact that Verona was a Venetian dependency and therefore could not have had a Duke. Florio never visited Venice, Oxford spent a year there.
- WIKIPEDIA Chronology
- First official record: Francis Meres' Palladis Tamia (1598)
- First published: First Folio (1623)
- First recorded performance: adaptation by Benjamin Victor performed at David Garrick's Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in 1762. Earliest known performance of straight Shakespearean text at Royal Opera House in 1784, although because of the inclusion of the play in Palladis Tamia, we know it was definitely performed in Shakespeare's day.
- Evidence: The play contains passages which seem to borrow from John Lyly's Midas (1589), meaning it could not have been written prior to 1589. Additionally, Stanley Wells argues that the scenes involving more than four characters, "betray an uncertainty of technique suggestive of inexperience. As such, the play is considered to be one of the first Shakespeare composed upon arriving in London (Roger Warren, following E.A.J. Honigmann, suggests he may have written it prior to his arrival) and, as such, he lacked theatrical experience. This places the date of composition as most likely somewhere between 1589 and 1591.
- Full text of play