Dating the play

The Comedy of Errors (2007) Jason Merrells (left) and brother Simon Merrells as twins Antipholus of Syracuse and Antipholus of Ephesus. Photo by Ellie Kurttz © RSC

Rebecca Brown explains how we know when Shakespeare wrote The Comedy of Errors.


The first recorded performance of The Comedy of Errors was on 28 December 1594, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, in the hall of Gray's Inn in Holborn as part of the Christmas festivities.

Scholars are divided about the play's date of composition. Some argue that it was written in the very early 1590s but others maintain that 1594 is the more likely date and that it was, perhaps, expressly written for this performance before a legal audience at the end of that year. If the later date is the correct, it was composed at the same time as Love's Labours Lost and the narrative poem The Rape of Lucrece.

The Comedy of Errors was not printed until 1623 when Shakespeare's plays were collected in the First Folio, published seven years after the dramatist's death.


Written by Rebecca Brown © RSC
Photo shows Jason Merrells (left) and brother Simon Merrells as twins Antipholus of Syracuse and Antipholus of Ephesus in the RSC's 2007 touring production of The Comedy of Errors.
Photo by Ellie Kurttz © RSC

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