Measure for Measure (1603–1604)
- First official record: an entry in the Revels Account Book records a performance on 26 December 1604 of "Mesur for Mesur" by "Shaxberd."
- First published: First Folio (1623).
- First recorded performance: in the banqueting hall at Whitehall Palace on 26 December 1604, by the King's Men.
- Evidence: obviously the play was written prior to December 1604. Internal evidence in the form of topical allusions suggest a date of 1603–1604. For example, 1.1.68-73 may allude to King James' dislike of crowds, which had become apparent in June 1603. Another example is found at 4.3.8 ("the old women were all dead"). This is thought to refer to the plague sweeping London, which had become a significant problem in May 1603. In 1.2, Lucio discusses with two gentlemen the possibility of an imminent peace, which would deprive soldiers of their occupation, followed immediately by a reference to a "sanctimonious pirate" (1.2.1-7). This may refer to King James' attempts in the summer of 1604 to negotiate a peace treaty with Spain, which would greatly reduce the activities of pirates. If these allusions are accurate, it would place the date of composition as somewhere between summer 1603 and late 1604. This date is supported by stylistic analysis. Both a colloquialism-in-verse test and a metrical test place Measure after Twelfth Night and Troilus, but before All's Well, and a rare word test links it most closely to All's Well.