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Performance history is often of limited use, as the first recorded performance of many plays was not necessarily when that play was first performed.

For example, the first recorded performance of Romeo and Juliet was not until 1662, yet we know the play was performed in Shakespeare's lifetime.

Shakespearean scholars, beginning with Edmond Malone in 1778, have attempted to reconstruct the relative chronology of Shakespeare's oeuvre by various means, using external evidence (such as references to the plays by Shakespeare's contemporaries in both critical material and private documents, allusions in other plays, entries in the Stationers' Register, and records of performance and publication), and internal evidence (allusions within the plays to contemporary events, composition and publication dates of sources used by Shakespeare, stylistic analysis looking at the development of his style and diction over time, and the plays' context in the contemporary theatrical and literary milieu).

This article presents a possible chronological listing of the composition of the plays of William Shakespeare.

Performance and publication dates can thus be used only to determine terminal dates of composition, with the initial dates often remaining much more speculative. Honigmann argues that Shakespeare began his career with Titus Andronicus in 1586 (the conventional school of thought is that Shakespeare began writing plays upon arriving in London c.1590).

In addition, some scholars dissent from the conventional dating system altogether. There are six major modern scholarly editions of the Complete Works of Shakespeare: The Riverside Shakespeare (edited by G.

Originally, A Shrew was seen as a non-Shakespearean source for The Shrew, meaning The Shrew must have been completed sometime after . Houk posited the "Ur-Shrew" theory, suggesting that the plays are two completely unrelated texts by different authors based on the same (now lost) source.

However, there are other theories about the relationship between the texts. In his 1998 edition of A Shrew for the New Cambridge Shakespeare: The Early Quartos series, Stephen Roy Miller suggested A Shrew was an adaptation of The Shrew written by someone other than Shakespeare.

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