Antony and Cleopatra (1606)
1607 quarto of The Devil's Charter, which may allude to Antony and Cleopatra.
- First official record: entered into the Stationers' Register by Edward Blount on 20 May 1608 as "a booke Called Anthony. and Cleopatra." Jointly entered with Pericles, Prince of Tyre.
- First published: First Folio (1623), as The Tragedie of Anthonie, and Cleopatra.
- First recorded performance: in 1669 the Lord Chamberlain's office granted the right to perform the play to Thomas Killigrew, with the added note that it had been "formerly acted at the Blackfriars," but no further information is given. The earliest definite performance was in 1759 when it was staged by David Garrick at Drury Lane, from a script prepared by Edward Capell. However, this production was heavily influenced by John Dryden's All for Love, which, along with Charles Sedley's Antony and Cleopatra had dominated the stage from 1677 onwards. Different adaptations were staged by John Philip Kemble at Covent Garden in 1813, William Macready at Drury Lane in 1833, Samuel Phelps at Sadler's Wells in 1849, Andrew Halliday at Drury Lane in 1873, and Herbert Beerbohm Tree at His Majesty's Theatre in 1906. The earliest known production of the straight Shakespearean text was in a production by Robert Atkins at The Old Vic in 1922.
- Evidence: obviously, the play was written by May 1608. However, an earlier terminus ante quem can perhaps be established by Samuel Daniel's republication of his play The Tragedie of Cleopatra (originally written in 1594) in a "newly altered version," which seems to have been influenced by Shakespeare's Anthony and Cleoptra. For example, Daniel includes a newly added allusion to "Cydnus" as the meeting place of the lovers, adds the characters of Dircetus, Diomedes and Gallus, and includes several verbal echoes. If the play was an influence on Daniel then it must have been on stage by Easter 1607, due to the closing of the theatres because of plague. This suggests it was written in 1606 or very early 1607. That 1606 is the most likely date seems fixed by Barnabe Barnes' The Devil's Charter, acted by the King's Men on 2 February 1607. Barnes refers to "aspics," which are used to kill two young princes in their sleep, as "Cleopatra's birds," and the princes as "competitors with Cleopatra." If Barnes is here alluding to Anthony and Cleopatra, in which Cleopatra kills herself by making an asp bite her on the breast and arm (5.2.302-312), it must have been on stage by January 1607 at the very latest, suggesting composition in 1606.