Cymbeline (1610)

1620 quarto of Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher's Philaster, which has strong links with Cymbeline.

First official record: Simon Forman saw a production on an unspecified date in 1611. It is thought he saw the play not long before he died, on 8 September of that year.[365]
First published: First Folio (1623), as The Tragedie of Cymbeline.
First recorded performance: Simon Forman saw the play in 1611, although the date (and location) is unknown. The earliest known datable performance was on 1 January 1634, when the play was performed at court for Charles I and Henrietta Maria, where it was described as "well likte by the kinge."[366]
Evidence: obviously, the play was complete by September 1611. A terminus post quem of 1608 can be fixed with reasonable certainty insofar as the spectacular stage direction in 5.3, when "Jupiter descends in thunder and lightning, sitting upon an eagle," suggests Shakespeare wrote the play with the indoor stage equipment of Blackfriars in mind, which places the date as after August 1608.[365] The play also has connections with two other plays of the period; Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher's Philaster, or Love Lies a-Bleeding and Thomas Heywood's The Golden Age. Philaster and Cymbeline have strong verbal and tonal parallels, and both feature a broadly similar plot. Scholars are in general agreement that the plays were written around the same period, and that one influenced the other. The direction of influence, however, is not certain. If Beaumont and Fletcher were influenced by Cymbeline, they must have seen it in performance. However, the theatres were closed until at least December 1609, meaning the play could not have been staged until early 1610. Philaster was read in MS by John Davies in October 1610, so if Philaster was influenced by Cymbeline, it must have been written in the first half of 1610.[367] However, this contradicts Andrew Gurr's evidence that Philaster was written in late 1609.[368] On the other hand, Shakespeare would have had access to the Philaster MS, making it more likely that Philaster preceded Cymbeline. If Gurr's late 1609 date for Philaster is correct, this would suggest Shakespeare wrote Cymbeline in 1610.[369] The play is also connected to Thomas Heywood's The Golden Age, which, like Cymbeline, features Jupiter descending on a cloud, as well as some tentative verbal parallels. As Heywood commonly borrowed from Shakespeare's work, the likely explanation here is that Cymbeline preceded Golden Age. However, the date of Golden Age is uncertain. It was published in 1611, but there is some evidence it may have been written in late 1610. If one accepts this date, it suggests a date of mid-1610 for Cymbeline.[370] Further evidence for 1610 is presented by Roger Warren, in his 1998 edition of the play for the Oxford Shakespeare. Warren argues that the play was performed at court during the investiture of James' eldest son Henry as Prince of Wales, which ran from 31 May to 6 June. Central to the celebrations was Samuel Daniels' Tethys' Festival, which foregrounded Milford Haven as the "port of union" where Henry's ancestor Henry Tudor had landed to face Richard III. Milford is similarly foregrounded in Cymbeline, which also deals with the iconography and cultural significance of Welshness, providing a correlation between the geography of the play and the politics of the period.[371] In his 2005 edition for the New Cambridge Shakespeare, Martin Butler, citing much of the same evidence as Warren (although he is unconvinced by the connection with Golden Age), agrees with a date of mid-1610.[372]