Henry VIII (1612–1613)
- First official record: a letter by Thomas Lorkin, dated 30 June 1613, in which he describes a fire at the Globe Theatre caused when sparks from an on-stage cannon landed on a thatched roof during a performance of "the play of Hen:8."
- First published: First Folio (1623), as The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eight.
- First recorded performance: the production mentioned in Lorkin's letter took place on 29 June 1613. In a letter by Sir Henry Wotton to Sir Edmund Bacon, dated 2 July 1613, Wotton describes the production as "a new play called All Is True representing some principal pieces of the reign of Henry the VIIIth." Traditionally, this was assumed to have been the first performance. However, in another letter describing the fire, written by London merchant Henry Bluett on 4 July 1613, and only discovered in 1981, the play is described as having "been acted not passing 2 or 3 times before," meaning although the 29 June is the first recorded performance, it was not the first actual performance of the play.
- Additional information (attribution): the play is thought to be a collaboration with John Fletcher, a theory first proposed in 1850 by James Spedding (following a suggestion by Alfred, Lord Tennyson), who suggested that Shakespeare's original manuscript was touched up by Fletcher and his regular collaborator, Francis Beaumont. Unlike Shakespeare's other collaboration(s) with Fletcher (Two Noble Kinsmen and, possibly, Cardenio), there is no external evidence that Fletcher worked on Henry VIII, and any arguments for collaboration are based wholly on stylistic analysis. However, much of this evidence does suggest two writers; a rare word test, Ants Oras' pause test, the relationship between prose and verse, vocabulary distribution, and a colloquialism-in-verse test all provide evidence that the play had two different authors. The passages most confidently attributed to Shakespeare are 1.1, 1.2, 2.3, 2.4, 3.2 and 5.1.
- Evidence: the fact that the 29 June performance was such an early performances suggests a date of composition of 1612–1613, a date with which most modern scholars concur. Ever since Spedding, scholars have tended to link the play with the marriage of Princess Elizabeth to Frederick V, Elector Palatine in February 1613. In his 1957 edition of the play for the second series of the Arden Shakespeare, R.A. Foakes argues the overriding theme of the play, especially the final scene, showing the christening of the future Queen Elizabeth, would have perfectly suited the political atmosphere of the period. In early 1613, there was much suspicion of Spain, and Catholic conspiracy, and it was hoped that the marriage would produce an alliance with the devoutly Protestant German princes. In terms of stylistic analysis, the most significant data in terms of dating the play is MacDonald P. Jackson's rare word test, which found that the sections of the play thought to be by Shakespeare must be dated to the very end of his career, and if the non-Shakespearean sections were treated as Shakespearean they would be dated to 1599–1600, an obvious impossibility.