When Cymbeline was written and the sources Shakespeare used for the play.

Robert Harris as Cymbeline with Michael Sanders as Page, Cymbeline, 1957, directed by Peter Hall.
Photo by Angus McBean © RSC – Image Licensing


Cymbeline was probably written in 1610. Scholars have said that the play probably belongs to the months where the theatres were reopened in spring 1610, after a long period of closure due to the plague.

The emphasis of Wales in the play also suggests it was written around the time Henry Stuart was given the title of Prince of Wales in 1610. It was printed in the First Folio of 1623 where it was classified as a tragedy.


There are several sources for the various elements of Cymbeline's complex plot. The storyline involving Cymbeline is derived from a rudimentary outline in Holinshed's Chronicles (1587).

The tale about a wager on a wife's chastity goes back to Boccaccio's Decameron in a story called Frederyke of Jennen, while many other elements of the play can be found in folk and fairy tales.

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