Much Ado About Nothing (1598–1599)[edit]

First official record: mentioned in the Stationers' Register on a flyleaf dated 4 August 1600 as "The cōmedie of muche A doo about nothinge." Grouped with Henry V, As You Like It and Ben Jonson's Every Man in His Humour under the heading "to be staied." Who wrote the note, the exact nature of the grouping of plays, and the meaning of "to be staied" is unknown, but is thought to have been an attempt by the Lord Chamberlain's Men to prevent unauthorised printing of the plays listed.[176][177] The play was formally entered into the Register by Andrew Wise and William Aspley on 23 August as "Muche a Doo about nothing." Jointly entered with 2 Henry IV.[173]
First published: published in quarto in 1600 as Much adoe about Nothing (printed by Valentine Simmes for Andrew Wise and William Aspley).
First recorded performance: on or around 14 February 1613, when the play was performed at court as part of the celebrations for the marriage of Princess Elzabeth to Frederick V, Elector Palatine.[178]
Evidence: the play is not mentioned in Meres' Palladis Tamia, which tentatively suggests it had not been performed by September 1598. Although it has been suggested that Much Ado could be Love's Labour's Won, the discovery of the list written by Christopher Hunt in 1603 refutes this possibility, as Hunt mentions Love's Labour's Won three years after Much Ado had been published under its own name.[178] Furthermore, the quarto text includes the name "Kempe" as a speech heading throughout 4.2. This is universally recognised as referring to William Kempe, the leading comic actor of the Lord Chamberlain's Men, with the inference being that the role of Dogberry was specifically written for him. However, Kempe left the Lord Chamberlain's Men sometime in early 1599, suggesting the play must have been written before then. This suggests a date of composition in late 1598 and/or early 1599.[179]