Man sits on stage clutching bare chest

The Merry Wives of Windsor

William Shakespeare

Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor is a story of marriage, wealth, jealousy and lies.


This comedy featuring Sir John Falstaff was first published in 1602, though believed to have been written sometime before 1597.  

A ladies' man

Sir John Falstaff, staying in Windsor and down on his luck, decides to restore his fortunes by seducing the wives of two wealthy citizens.

He sends Mistress Page and Mistress Ford identical love letters, but they discover his double dealing and set about turning the tables, arranging an assignation at Mistress Ford's house.


Frank Ford has heard of Falstaff's plan and decides to test his wife's fidelity. Pretending to be Master Broom, he pays Falstaff to seduce his wife on his behalf, twice almost catching them together.

The Pages' daughter Anne is pursued by three suitors. The French physician Doctor Caius is her mother's choice, whilst her father favours Slender, Justice Shallow's kinsman. Anne herself is in love with Fenton.

Mistress Quickly is being paid by all three suitors to advance their cause.

A duel between Doctor Caius and Parson Evans is averted when the Host of the Garter Inn plays a trick on them, and they in turn pay him back.

In Windsor Great Park at night, Falstaff is set up for his final punishment - and one of Anne Page's suitors is successful.