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.