The precise dating, and the order of composition, of Shakespeare's plays have been a major concern of scholarship for many years, and are not likely ever to be finally determined. The two most important sources of evidence are the list of plays given by Francis Meres in his book, Palladis Tamia, of 1598, and the entries of plays in the Stationers' Register. Other clues are given by the dates of sources, contemporary allusions within and outside the plays, and stylistic evidence. The subject is treated in the OxfordTextual Companion. Particular doubt attaches to the relative order of the plays written before 1598, and we have no real evidence as to when Shakespeare began to write.
Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism.