Find out when As You Like It was written and first performed, and which poems and stories inspired Shakespeare to write it.

A young woman in men's clothes strokes the head of a prone young man
Peggy Ashcroft as Rosalind and Richard Johnson as Orlando, 1957, Shakespeare Memorial Theatre.
Photo by Angus McBean © RSC Browse and license our images


As You Like It is generally agreed to be the play that opened the new Globe Theatre in 1599.

It was registered by the Lord Chamberlain's Men on 4 August 1600, but no known copy of the play exists earlier than the First Folio of 1623.

The fact that As You Like It, along with three other plays of the period, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Much Ado About Nothing and Twelfth Night, all have female leading parts of a similar and challenging type suggests that Shakespeare had in mind a particularly talented boy actor to play them.

It is traditionally thought that Shakespeare himself acted the role of Adam.



Shakespeare's source was Thomas Lodge's prose romance Rosalynde, published in 1590.

Lodge's tale was in turn based around a mediaeval poem, the Tale of Gamelyn, which told the story of three brothers, the youngest of whom is hated by the eldest and forced into exile to live with a band of outlaws.

Shakespeare added various characters, most notably Jaques and Touchstone, changed the names of others and relocated the setting from the Forest of Ardennes in France to Warwickshire's Forest of Arden.

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