Category Archives: sources

As You Like the Sources

According to most critics, the primary source for Shakespeare in the composing of As You Like It, is a novel Rosalyne: Euphues Golden Legacie by Thomas Lodge. As it was published in 1590, the timeline works, as does the fact that in the book’s introduction–entitled “To The Gentlemen Readers”–Lodge uses the phrase, “If you like it, so”… and some have made the logical leap to link this to the title of Shakespeare’s play.
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Sources

No one is sure about the source materials for The Merry Wives of Windsor, but it’s fairly certain that it’s not Shakespeare’s original work.

Some possible influences include.

  • Il Pecorone, a collection of stories by Ser Giovanni Fiorentino; the second of these tales bares a resemblance to the Falstaff/Mistress Ford affair.
  • “Of Two Brethren and Their Wives” by Barnaby Riche, which includes a jealous husband forcing the escape of an illicit lover.
  • “The Tale of the Two Lovers of Pisa” from Tarlton’s Newes Out of Purgatorie,. another plot that parallels Falstaff’s affair with Mistress Ford and its repercussions.

Sources

Two early printed titles of the play are: The Cronicle History of Henry the Fifth; and The Life of Henry the Fifth.

As for many of the English histories, Shakespeare’s sources for Henry the Fifth look like the usual suspects:

  • Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland–Holinshed was only one of a three main authors of the work (the other two being William Harrison and Richard Stanyhurst), and their work was first printed in 1577.
  • Edward Hall’s The Union of the Two Illustrious Families of Lancaster and York
  • Samuel Daniel’s The First Four Books of the Civil Wars Between the Two Houses of Lancaster and York

Sources

The original printed title of the play is: The Second Part of Henry the Fourth; Concerning his Death; and the Coronation of King Henry the Fifth.

As for many of the English histories, Shakespeare’s sources for The Second Part of Henry the Fourth look like the usual suspects:

  • Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland–Holinshed was only one of a three main authors of the work (the other two being William Harrison and Richard Stanyhurst), and their work was first printed in 1577.
  • Edward Hall’s The Union of the Two Illustrious Families of Lancaster and York
  • Samuel Daniel’s The First Four Books of the Civil Wars Between the Two Houses of Lancaster and York

Sources

There was another play, contemporary to Shakespeare’s King John, called The Troublesome Reign of John, King of England (also known as The Troublesome Reign of King John). Though we believe the play to have been fairly popular during Shakespeare’s time, we are not sure of the play’s authorship.

Most critics believe that Shakespeare took this reasonably popular play and worked his magic on it; there are some others, however, who believe that Shakespeare’s is the first, and the other is a knock-off.

Regardless, another possible source material is (no surprise) Holinshed’s Chronicles.

Sources (or lack thereof)

A couple of months back, when we were discussing the sources for Love’s Labor’s Lost, we noted that that play had no literary source, one of the few times this was the case in Shakespeare’s Canon.  At that point, we mentioned that The Tempest was another that came to mind.

Well, A Midsummer Night’s Dream appears to be another.  It doesn’t have any primary literary source, though it seems that Shakespeare was influenced by a number of secondary ones:
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Sources

According to most critics, the source material for most of Shakespeare’s histories (including The First Part of Henry the Sixth) was Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland.  Holinshed was only one of a three main authors of the work (the other two being William Harrison and Richard Stanyhurst), and their work was first printed in 1577, about fifteen years before the composition of 1HenryVI.
Continue reading Sources