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How many plays did Shakespeare write?
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The answers above fall into a bit of a trap - the matter is far more complicated than they suggest: as there are at least two plays which we think Shakespeare wrote which have not survived.
Meres writes of "Love's Labour's Won" (a sequel, we think, to "Love's Labour's Lost") and another textual source (Humphrey Mosely) tells us of another lost play "Cardenio". No copies of either has survived.
Some scholars, moreover, think that Shakespeare wrote "Edward III", and it is now generally accepted that he wrote - at least some of - a play called "Sir Thomas More". Scholars disagree about whether the writing (which has survived) is Shakespeare's, or the work of another playwright. Some of the plays - including "Henry VIII" - which we know to be by Shakespeare, were likely also co-written with other writers.
"The Two Noble Kinsmen" is also now - though not included in the First Folio - generally believed to be by Shakespeare.
So the answer depends on who you believe. It's 38 (including "The Two Noble Kinsmen") plus (depending on what you believe) "Edward III" and "Sir Thomas More", and - if they indeed existed - "Cardenio" and "Love's Labour's Won".
So the best scholarly answer at present is 42. But who knows what time will reveal!
Posted by robertwilliam on November 30, 2008 at 9:53 AM (Answer #1)
As robertwilliam said, it's widely accepted to be 38. There will probably never be any change to that number because it relies primarily on determining how much Shakespeare co-wrote with other authors. If he wrote at least 51% of a play, does that mean it's officially accepted in the canon? There are a number of grey areas like that which could swing the number higher, but not likely. The "trap" he refers to is that it can never be proven 100% one way or the other...only "based on the current evidence."
Posted by playshakespeare-com on December 1, 2008 at 6:22 AM (Answer #2)
High School Teacher
Poolj - I am interested in your comment. What do you mean that "Shakespeare is Satan"? Is this merely a comment expressing your dislike of reading Shakespeare, since I am suspecting that you are a student? If you have not already done so, try watching one performed - they were written to be performed, don't forget. Lots of good plays are available on dvd and video. Also, check bookstores (online and otherwise) for modern language versions of Shakespeare. Hope this helps. I have found these to be effective in teaching Shakespeare.
Posted by lynnebh on January 13, 2010 at 10:54 PM (Answer #3)
Yes, the matter is complicated and there is talk of co-written plays and lost texts, but to include these in the total is pushing it rather a lot. Of course, there are people who believe that Shakespeare wrote none of the plays at all, but the clearest anwswer to the question is that given by the earlier answerers.
Posted by anzio45 on November 30, 2008 at 10:42 PM (Answer #4)
actual no. of plays written by Shakespeare is 39 according to the net. you can type" number of plays written by Shakespeare" in yahoo search and see the results you would surely get the results.
Posted by ashii on February 2, 2009 at 7:51 PM (Answer #5)
i agree. it is somewhat complitcated. the nuber attempted:42. number completed: 37-38.
Posted by noitall on April 2, 2009 at 6:18 AM (Answer #6)
he wrote 37 plays
Posted by morquecho76-08 on January 7, 2010 at 8:50 AM (Answer #7)
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Posted by azzyj on October 15, 2011 at 9:20 PM (Answer #8)
Shakepeare's plays can be ordered into 3 categories:
Comedy - 17
Tragedy - 10
History - 10
for a total of 37.
Posted by enotechris on November 30, 2008 at 9:31 AM (Answer #9)
if you don't like reading Shakespeare's play watch the film witch are in general excellent !!
Posted by hodelpgine on February 1, 2012 at 1:10 AM (Answer #10)
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Shakespear wrote 37 or 38 i'm not really sure how many exactly there are.
Posted by ayy-dee on February 20, 2012 at 1:39 AM (Answer #11)
It is unanimously accepted that Shakespeare wrote 38 Dramas.One drama named 'Cardenio' based on Cervante's 'Don Quixoto' was lost.
Posted by is00 on March 11, 2012 at 7:04 PM (Answer #12)
High School Teacher
The general consensus is that Shakespeare wrote thirty-seven plays (see list below). However, no one can know for certain because of the inexact documentation at the time the plays were first being organized and published. If we include The Two Noble Kinsmen and two lost plays attributed to Shakespeare, Cardenio and Love's Labour's Won, then we could say he wrote, either alone or in collaboration, forty plays. Moreover, in the last few years many critics have begun to reassess a play called Edward III, currently grouped with a collection of eleven other plays known as the Shakespeare Apocrypha. Edward III bears striking similarities to Shakespeare's early histories. Another play, Sir Thomas More has also been under debate. Handwriting analysis has led scholars to believe that Shakespeare revised parts ofSir Thomas More, but, like Edward III, it is not part of the standard collection of Shakespeare's plays.
All's Well That Ends Well, As You Like It, Cymbeline, The Comedy of Errors,Love's Labour's Lost, Measure for Measure, The Merchant of Venice, The Merry Wives of Windsor, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Much Ado About Nothing,Pericles, The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest, Troilus and Cressida, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Twelfth Night, The Winter's Tale
Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, King Lear, Macbeth,Othello, Romeo and Juliet, Timon of Athens, Titus Andronicus
1,2, and 3 Henry VI, 1 and 2 Henry IV, King John, Henry V, Henry VIII, Richard II,Richard III
Posted by kc7092 on June 10, 2012 at 3:58 PM (Answer #13)
High School Teacher
Shakespeare wrote 37 plays.
Posted by dneshan on November 30, 2008 at 9:23 AM (Answer #14)
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