The Tempest (1610–1611)

First official record: an entry in the Revels Account Book records a performance on 1 November 1611.
First published: First Folio (1623).
First recorded performance: in the banqueting hall at Whitehall Palace on 1 November 1611, performed by the King's Men.[373]
Evidence: the date of The Tempest can be securely fixed between September 1610 and October 1611. Obviously, to have been on stage on 1 November, it must have been completed before November, and it is unlikely that the Whitehall performance was the first performance (plays were rarely performed at court without previously appearing on the public stage). The terminus post quem of September 1610 can be fixed by Shakespeare's use of a real incident as source material. In May 1609 a fleet of nine ships set sail from Plymouth, heading for Virginia, carrying five hundred colonists. On 29 July, the flagship, the Sea Venture, was driven off course by a storm and wrecked on the coast of Bermuda. All hands were thought lost, but on 23 May 1610 her passengers arrived safely in Virginia, having found shelter on Bermuda, where they repaired the pinnaces and completed their journey.[374] The play is particularly indebted to William Strachey's A True Reportory of the Wracke and Redemption of Sir Thomas Gates, written in Virginia, and dated 15 July. The MS was carried back to England by Gates himself, who arrived in London in early September. Although True Reportory was not published until 1625, it is known to have been read widely in MS form.[375] Two pamphlets published later in 1610 were also used as sources; Sylvester Jourdain's A Discovery of the Bermudas, the dedication of which is dated 13 October 1610, and the Virginia Company's own A True Declaration of the Estate of the Colonie in Virginia, which was entered into the Stationers Register on 8 November.[376] It is worth noting that although most scholars accept these texts as sources and evidence of dating, not all do so. Kenneth Muir is a notable example of a scholar who questions the argument that Shakespeare used Strachey.[377] Stylistically, a rare vocabulary test, a colloquialism-in-verse test and Ants Oras' pause test all place the play after Coriolanus, Winter's Tale and Cymbeline.[367]

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