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How many plays did Shakespeare write?

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lilchill | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted November 30, 2008 at 9:20 AM via web

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How many plays did Shakespeare write?

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robertwilliam | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted November 30, 2008 at 9:53 AM (Answer #1)

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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!

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playshakespeare-com | College Teacher | eNoter

Posted December 1, 2008 at 6:22 AM (Answer #2)

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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."

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lynnebh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted January 13, 2010 at 10:54 PM (Answer #3)

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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.

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anzio45 | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted November 30, 2008 at 10:42 PM (Answer #4)

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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.

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ashii | Student, Grade 9 | eNoter

Posted February 2, 2009 at 7:51 PM (Answer #5)

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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.

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noitall | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted April 2, 2009 at 6:18 AM (Answer #6)

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i agree. it is somewhat complitcated. the nuber attempted:42. number completed: 37-38.

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morquecho76-08 | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted January 7, 2010 at 8:50 AM (Answer #7)

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he wrote 37 plays

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azzyj | Student, Grade 10 | Salutatorian

Posted October 15, 2011 at 9:20 PM (Answer #8)

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37+

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enotechris | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted November 30, 2008 at 9:31 AM (Answer #9)

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Shakepeare's plays can be ordered into 3 categories:

Comedy  -  17

Tragedy  -  10

History   -   10

for a total of 37. 

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hodelpgine | Student, Grade 11 | eNoter

Posted February 1, 2012 at 1:10 AM (Answer #10)

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if you don't like reading Shakespeare's play watch the film witch are in general excellent !!

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ayy-dee | Student, Grade 10 | Valedictorian

Posted February 20, 2012 at 1:39 AM (Answer #11)

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Shakespear wrote 37 or 38 i'm not really sure how many exactly there are.

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is00 | College Teacher | Honors

Posted March 11, 2012 at 7:04 PM (Answer #12)

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It is unanimously accepted that Shakespeare wrote 38 Dramas.One drama named 'Cardenio' based on Cervante's 'Don Quixoto' was lost.

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kc7092 | High School Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted June 10, 2012 at 3:58 PM (Answer #13)

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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.

the plays

Comedies
All's Well That Ends WellAs You Like ItCymbelineThe Comedy of Errors,Love's Labour's LostMeasure for MeasureThe Merchant of VeniceThe Merry Wives of WindsorA Midsummer Night's DreamMuch Ado About Nothing,PericlesThe Taming of the ShrewThe TempestTroilus and CressidaThe Two Gentlemen of VeronaTwelfth NightThe Winter's Tale

Tragedies
Antony and CleopatraCoriolanusHamletJulius CaesarKing LearMacbeth,OthelloRomeo and JulietTimon of AthensTitus Andronicus

Histories
1,2, and 3 Henry VI1 and 2 Henry IVKing JohnHenry VHenry VIIIRichard II,Richard III

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dneshan | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted November 30, 2008 at 9:23 AM (Answer #14)

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Shakespeare wrote 37 plays. 

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adarshanurag | Student, Grade 11 | Valedictorian

Posted December 31, 2013 at 1:10 PM (Answer #25)

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Shakesperae wrote 37 plays(comedy, tragedy, and history) and 3 works of poem.

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arjun | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted February 6, 2013 at 3:28 AM (Answer #23)

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Yes Shakespeare wrote 37 plays,consiting comedy tragedy and history.

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Yojana_Thapa | Student, Grade 10 | Valedictorian

Posted January 31, 2014 at 11:01 PM (Answer #26)

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He wrote 37.

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zumba96 | Student, Grade 11 | Valedictorian

Posted May 1, 2014 at 3:50 AM (Answer #27)

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Most of us know from the information we have at hand that Shakespeare has written 37 plays, but no one can no for sure because at that time some documents were being organized and published. Also, in recent years, others have found writing that is similar to Shakespeare's plays and may be part of his collection. Others have even found writing that looks similar to Shakespeare where he has co-written or made corrections in plays. 

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ik9744 | Student, Grade 9 | Valedictorian

Posted June 26, 2014 at 6:31 AM (Answer #28)

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Shakespeare wrote 37 plays.

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Ada Sison | Student, Grade 10 | Honors

Posted July 12, 2014 at 10:36 PM (Answer #29)

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He wrote 37 plays within his life.

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arrellbelle | Student, College Sophomore | Valedictorian

Posted July 19, 2014 at 3:44 PM (Answer #30)

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Shakespeare wrote a total of 40 different plays within his lifetime. However, it is only 40 different plays if we include "The Two Noble Kinsmen" and his two lost plays of "Love's Labour's Won" and his other lost play. However, if you do not include those, then it is a mere 37.

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