Dating the play

The Taming of the Shrew (1954) The wedding of Katharine (Barbara Jefford) and Petruchio (Keith Michell). Photo: Angus McBean Collection © Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Rebecca Brown explains how we know when Shakespeare wrote The Taming of the Shrew:


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

An anonymous play called The Taming of A Shrew was published in 1594. The text of this play is not that printed in the First Folio but it has many similarities.

The relationship between these two plays has long puzzled scholars but many believe that The Taming of A Shrew was published as an imperfectly-remembered version of Shakespeare's unpublished original - a so-called 'memorial reconstruction'. Interestingly, in this version, the Christopher Sly figure remains on-stage throughout.

Close study of the style, structure and language of The Taming of the Shrew have persuaded most scholars to place it, along with The Two Gentlemen of Verona, as being written in the years 1590-1, at the very beginning of Shakespeare's career as a playwright.


Written by Rebecca Brown © RSC
Photo shows the wedding of Katharine (Barbara Jefford) and Petruchio (Keith Michell) in the RSC's 1954 production of The Taming of the Shrew.
Photo: Angus McBean Collection © Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

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