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The chronological order of this list of Chaucer's authentic poems follows the arrangement adopted by Dr. Skeat in the prefaces to his Students' Chaucer, which has been collated with Dr. Furnivall's list in his Trial Forewords to my Parallel-Text Edition of Chaucer's Minor Poems," published for the Chaucer Society in 1871, and with the exhaustive account of Chaucer's life and works in the late Bernhard Ten Brink's History of English Literature. These three authorities differ considerably in their assignment of dates to the poems, and in their estimate of their authenticity. While Dr. Skeat, for example, is inclined to attribute the first 1705 lines of the translation of The Romaunt of the Rose, contained in what is known as the Glasgow Manuscript, to Chaucer, Ten Brink denies that they are his, and puts the version which Chaucer is known to have made of that famous poem, at a later date than Dr. Skeat, on the internal evidence of this 1ragment, would give it. All three, however, agree substantially in their division of the author's life into three periods : (1) The period before 1372-3, when Chaucer was working principally upon French models ; (2) the period after his Italian journey of 1372-3. when he turned his attention to the Italian writers ; (3) the period from 1384 to his death, when the poems in which his original genius is paramount were produced --- The Legend of Good Women and The Canterbury Tales. It will be noticed that, in the list, few positive dates are given, and many, where they are given, are marked with a query. Some are certain. The Parle. ment of Foules, for instance, was composed in honour of Richard II's marriage to Anne of Bohemia (1382). . The Hous of Fame contains an allusion to Chaucer's appointment to a comptrollership of the Petty Customs (1382); and The Legend of Good Women is dedicated to the Queen, in acknowledgment of the licence (1385) which permitted him to appoint a deputy in his office. Many poems were composed at different times.

The Monkes Tale, for example, is a patchwork whose various pieces belong to all three divisions of its writer's life. Other poems-eg. Palamon and Arcite-were used as rough material for later works, and are to be found here and there in fragmentary forms.

First Period, till 1372-3.

1. Romaunt of the Rose, fragment A (1l 1-1705) in Glasgow MS. 2, An ABC. 3. 1369. The Book of the Duchesse, 4. Parts of The Monkes Tale.


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Second Period1372-3-1384.

5. The Clerkes Tale, except 13 lines and Envoy. 6. A Compleint to his Lady. 7. An Amorous Compleint, made at Windsor. 8. Womanly Noblesse (ballade). 9. The Compleynte unto Pite. 10. Anelida and Arcite. 11. Original form of The Tale of Melibeus (prose).

The Persones Tale (prose).

The Man of Lawes Tale. 14. 1379? The Compleynt of Mars. 15. 1377-81. Translation of Boëthius (prose). 16. The Former Age.

Adapted from or suggested 17. Fortune. (Three ballades with Envoy.) ) by Boëthius., 18. 1382. The Parlement of Foules. 19. 1379-83. Troilus and Criseyde. 20. Chaucer's Wordes unto Adam, his owne Scriveyn.

21. 1383-4. The Hous of Fame. Third Period—1384-1400.

22. 1385-6. The Legend of Good Women.
23. 1386. Beginning of T'he Canterbury Tales.
24. 1387-8. Central Period of
25. 1389, etc. Continuation of
25. 1391. A Treatise on the Astrolabe (prose).
27. 1393? The Compleynt of Venus.
28. 1393. Lenvoy de Chaucer d Scogan.
29. 1396. Lenvoy de Chaucer à Bukton.
30. 1399. Envoy to The Compleint of Chaucer to his Empty Purse.

Minor poems, of uncertain date, possibly belonging to part of the second and third periods (1380-96).

31. Merciles Beauté (triple roundel). 32. To Rosemounde (ballade without envoy). 33. Against Women Unconstant (ballade without envoy). 34. The Compleint of Chaucer to his Empty Purse (ballade with envoy.

See no. 30). 35. Lak of Stedfastnesse (baliade). 36. Gentilesse (ballade without envoy). 37. Truth (ballade). 38. Proverbs of Chaucer.

Lost and altered works are as follows:First Period

39. Translation of Origen Upon the Maudeleyne. 40. The Book of the Leoun. 41. Ceys and Alcioun, a story retold in no. 3. 42. Lyf of St. Cecyle, adapted in The Seconde Nonnes Tale. 43. Palamon and Arcite, retold in The Knightes Tale ; portions are

worked into nos. 10, 18, and 19. 44. Translation from Pope Innocent III of the Wretched Engendring of

Mankinde ; portions are worked into The Man of Lawes Tale.

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Play or Poem.

Probable Date of


First Publication.

Written (?) 1593



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1595 %

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Venus and Adonis

1593. Love's Labour's Lost

1598. The Two Gentlemen of Verona


1623 (Ist folio). Comedy of Errors


1623 (Ist folio). Romeo and Juliet


1597, 4to. Henry VI, Part I (part).

March 3, 1592
Parts II and III

15925 Richard'111

1623 (ist folio). 1592-3

1597, 4to. II


1597, 4to. Lucrece


1594, 4to. Titus Andronicus .

Jan. 23, 1594 (? 1594. 4t0), 1600, 410. King John.


1623 (Ist folio). The Merchant of Venice

Aug. 25, 1594?

1600 (410, 2 different

editions). A Midsummer-Night's Dream


1600 (4to, 2 different

editions) All's Well that Ends Well

1623 (ist folio). The Taming of the Shrew (part) 1595-6

1623 (Ist folio). Henry IV, Part I


1598, 4to.

1600, 4to. The Merry Wives of Windsor

1603. 4to (imperfect) Henry


1600, 4to. Much Ado About Nothing


1600, 4to. As You Like It


1623, ist folio. Twelfth Night

1623, ist folio. Sonnets

Before 1598-
after 1600 11

1609, 4to. Julius Cæsar

1623, ist folio. Hamlet.

1602 13

1603, 4to. 14 Troilus and Cressida.

1609, ist 4to. Othello.

Nov. 1, 1604 16

1622, 4to. Measure for Measure:

Dec. 26, 1604 16 1623, ist folio. Macbeth


1623, ist folio. King Lear.

Dec. 26, 1626 17 | 1608, 4to (2 editions). Timon of Athens (part)


1623, ist folio. Pericles (part):


1608, 4to (imperfect). Antony and Cleopatra


1623, ist folio. 18 Coriolanus.


1623, ist folio. Cymbeline .

1610-11 19

1623, ist folio. A Winter's Tale

May 15, 1611 20

1623, ist folio. The Tempest

1611 21

1623, ist folio. The Two Noble Kinsmen (? part) | 1612

1634, 4to. Henry VIII (part)

June 29, 1613 a 1623, ist folio.

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1600 10

1601 12


? 1603 15

I. “ The first heir of my invention"-Dedication to the Poem.

2. Various dates have been assigned from 1585 to 1594. The probable limits are 1589-91.

3. The Nurse says (1. iii. ), "'Tis since the earthquake" (? of 1580), "now eleven yeass." Probably written towards the end of 1591 and produced in 1592. 4. At the Rose Theatre, by Lord Strange's company.

5. Robert Greene's (d. Sept. 3, 1592) Groats-worth of Wit contains the parody of the famous line, "Oh Tiger's heart wrapt in a woman's hide" (3 H. VI. i. 4).

6. By Lord Sussex's actors. Shakespeare's probable part in the piece was merely that of reviser, and therefore the evidence of style, which might be thought to point to an earlier date, goes for very little.

7. At the Rose, if it is the “ Venesyon Comedie" which Henslowe then produced. Marlowe's Jew of Malta and the conspirator Roderigo Lopez (executed June, 1594) seem to have given Shakespeare suggestions for Shylock. The "Venesyon Comedie" was recast some years later into its present form, in which it forms one of the four great comedies of 15991600. All the best evidence (except Furnivall, who says (?)1596) is in favour of 1594.

8. Written to celebrate a marriage. The older theory is that this was Essex's marriage in 1590, but the date is far too early. Mr. Sidney Lee suggests either the marriage of Lucy Harington to Lord Bedford (Dec. 12, 1594) or of William Stanley, Earl of Derby (Jan. 24, 1595), both of which agree very well with the play. The evidence on behalf of the 1590 theory is founded on pure conjecture and is a good example of the futility of Shakespearean criticism in reading too closely between the lines.

9. Probably recast from an early play mentioned by Meres (Palladis Tamia, 1598) as “ Love's Labour's Won," which has also been identified with The Taming of the Shrew.

10. Seen by John Manningham at the Middle Temple, Feb. 2, 1602; but not on that account a new play.

11. The Sonnets are mentioned by Meres in Palladis Tamia (1598) as "his" (i.e. Shakespeare's) "sugred Sonnets among his private.friends. Some, therefore, must have been written before 1598. The greater part, if their autobiographical significance is allowed, must belong to 1600 or 1601. Meres' book, in its praise of Shakespeare, is the locus classicus for the names of the plays existing before 1598. It raised Shakespeare's fame, and publishers began to attribute spurious books to him-.g. William Jaggard gave him the authorship of The Passionate Pilgrim (1599), which contains, among other things, Marlowe's Passionate Shepherd, and Edward Blount added, under his name, a poem called The Phænix and the Turtle to Robert Chester's Love's Martyr (1601). Venus and Adonis, Lucrece, and the Sonnets, are the only genuine non-dramatic works of Shakespeare.

12. The allusion (in Weever's Mirror of Martyrs (1601 ; see text, p. 190) may point to an even earlier date, as Weever's book had lain for two years in the press. But this is not substantiated by fact or internal evidence, unless we are to antedate all the previous places.

13. Hamlet (11. ii.) clearly refers to the quarrel of the older companies with the boy-actors of the Chapel Royal (1601).

14. The first 4to is imperfect, and was probably pirated. The second 410 (1604) is the first trustworthy text. The play was acted during the author's lifetime at Oxford and Cambridge.

15. All dates are very doubtful, and this seems the earliest possible. The general spirit of the play would seem to refer it with more likelihood to 1608, soon after Antony and Cleopatra.

16. Both plays acted at Court before James I (Malone's menioranda in Bodleian Library). 17. Before the Court at Whitehall (title-page of 4tos). 18. Licensed in Stationers' Registers, May, 1608, but not published. 19. Performance seen by Dr. Simon Forman in 1610-11. 20. Seen by Dr. Forman at the Globe on this date.

21. Produced (but not for the first time), with eighteen other plays by Shakespeare and others, at Court (1613), to celebrate Princess Elizabeth's wedding to the Palsgrave Frederick.

22. On the authority of Sir Henry Wotton, who notes the burning of the Globe Theatre owing to the firing of a cannon during the performance.



From a very early period we have occasional glimpses of an officer attached to the English Court, whose function to some extent corresponded with that of our modern Laureate. The exact nature of his duties cannot be determined, nor is it clear what position he held among the rather brusque courtiers of the time--although it is clear that he was regarded with some consideration—but his existence cannot reasonably be doubted. Among the landowners recorded in Domesday Book, one Berdic, possessing three vills, is described as Joculator Regis, joculator being the Low Latin form of the Norman jongleur. Coming down to later times we obtain sull clearer indication of such an official's existence. William the Foreigner is taken to Palestine by King Richard for the express purpose of celebrating his master's heroic deeds ; Baston, the Carmelite friar, follows Edward II into Scotland; and a certain John Kaye is mentioned as versifier (versiticator) in Edward IV's reign. He is considered by some to have been the first Poet Laureate in the present sense of the word.

The term, however, did not make its first appearance until the fourteenth century, and was then used in two senses, distinct not only from each other, but also from the present sense. In one it was applied simply to a person who had taken a particular degree at the Universities; in the other any supremely excellent poet was styled by his admirers “ Poet Laureate. Skill in Latin versification was the only qualification necessary for the distinction of Laureate-graduate. The names we find in this connection are Maurice Byrchenshaw and John Skelton. Skelton seems to have been specially proud of his title. He calls himself, in the headings of his Latin poems, “ Poeta Skelton Laureatus," and never lets slip any opportunity of drawing his reader's attention to the fact that

“A King to me the habit gave

At Oxford the University.” But it is in its other signification that the term is most familiar to students of the early English poets. Thus Chaucer, in his “Clerk's Prologue,” calls Petrarch “ the laureate poete"-although in this passage

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