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The Winter's Tale appeared for the first time in the First Folio, where it is the last of the "Comedies." It is perhaps the most carefully printed play in the Folio. At the end of the play the "Names of the Actors" are given.


(I) Apart from considerations of style, the following facts make it almost certain that The Winter's Tale was one of Shakespeare's latest productions, and may safely be assigned to the years 1610-1611:-(i) It is mentioned in the Office-Book of Sir Henry Herbert as an old play ("formerly allowed of Sir George Buck, and likewise by me on Mr. Hemming's word that there is nothing profane added or reformed, though the allowed book was missing, and therefore I returned it without a fee, this 19 of August 1623"). Sir George Buck took possession of the office of Master of the Revels in August, 1610. (ii) Dr. Simon Forman in his Book of Plaies and Notes thereof has a lengthy reference to a performance of this play at the Globe Theater on May 15, 1611. Judging by Forman's careful analysis of the plot, it must have been a new play at that time. (iii) Ben Jonson mentions it with The Tempest in the Induction to his Bartholomew Fair (16121614): "If there be never a Servant monster i̇' the Fayre, who can help it, he sayes; nor of nest of Antiques? He is loth to make nature afraid in his Plays, like those that beget Tales, Tempests, and such like Drolleries."

(II) Internal tests fully corroborate the external evidence:(i) With the exception of the prologue-like chorus scene of Act IV, no five-measure lines are rhymed; (ii) run-on lines and double-endings abound; (iii) the logical structure is "more elliptical, involved, and perplexing than that of any other work of Shakespeare's"; (iv) furthermore, the remarkable two-fold structure of the play gives to it the appearance of being one of Shakespeare's boldest experiments in dramatic art. "It is rare, if not unprecedented, in any art," observes Mr. Watkiss Lloyd, "to find an effective whole resulting from the blank opposition of two precisely counterbalanced halves when not united by common reference to some declared third magnitude. Nor is such a uniting power wanting in the present instance, whatever may appear to external view"; (v) finally, there are the unmistakable links connecting The Winter's Tale with Pericles, Cymbeline, and The Tempest, "its companion and complement"-the Romances which belong to the close of the poet's life. On them all his gentle spirit seems to rest; "Timon the misanthrope" no longer delights him; his visions are of human joy-scenes of forgiveness, reconciliation, and peace-a world where father is re-united with child, husband with wife, brother with brother, friend with friend. Like his own Miranda, Shakespeare in these Romances again finds the world beautiful:

"O wonder!

How many goodly creatures are there here!

How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world
That has such people in 't!"


The story of The Winter's Tale was derived from one of the most popular of Elizabethan novels, Pandosto: the Triumph of Time (or, Dorastus and Fawnia); "wherein," according to its modest title-page, "is discovered by a pleasant History, that although by the means of sinister fortune, Truth may be concealed, yet by Time in spite of


fortune it is most manifestly revealed: pleasant for age to avoid drowsy thoughts, profitable for youth to eschew other wanton pastimes, and bringing to both a desired content. Temporis filia veritas." The book first appeared in 1588; its success may be gathered from the fact that no less than fourteen editions are known to have been issued. Its author was none other than the novelist Robert Greene, "Maister of Artes in Cambridge," whose death-bed utterances, reported in his Groatsworth of Wit bought with a Million of Repentance, anticipated a veritable "Triumph of Time," save that the absolute Johannes Factotum, "Maister of Artes in Neither University," was destined to become, not in his own conceit, but by universal acclamation, "the only Shake-scene in a country." The "scald, lying, trivial pamphlet" (as its apologetic publisher subsequently described it) could not have had reference to The Winter's Tale, at least in the form we know it; in all probability the old quarrel was altogether forgotten, Shakespeare certainly bore no resentment to Greene's memory, when he "beautified himself" with the fine feathers of Dorastus and Fawnia.2


Greene's then is the ground; Shakespeare's name is graven on the workmanship. Some notable refinements due to the dramatist are the following:-(i) in the novel Hermione's prototype actually dies upon hearing of the death of her son; (ii) her husband destroys himself, after becoming enamored of his unknown daughter; (iii) the characters of Paulina, Autolycus, and Antigonus are entirely Shakespeare's; (iv) Hermione's character is ennobled

1 Hazlitt's Shakespeare's Library. (Cp. Coleridge's adaptation.) 2 A few critics are inclined to find a hit at Shakespeare in Marlowe's Dido, as finished by Nash, and adduce the following couplet as evidence that The Winter's Tale was an early play!! Æneas says:

"Who would not undergo all kinds of toil,
To be well-stored with such a Winter's Tale?"

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