Merry Wives of Windsor

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
A Most pleasaunt and excellent conceited
Comedie, of Syr Iohn Falstaffe, and the
merrie Wiues of Windsor

London: T[homas] C[reede] for
Arthur Iohnson, 1602

This is the second play by Shakespeare known definitely to have been performed before the queen, as noted on the title page (the first was Love's Labour's Lost). The tradition that Shakespeare wrote Merry Wives at her request because she liked Falstaff has no foundation, but the play does seem to have been written for the Feast of the Garter, celebrated at Westminster in 1597. Mistress Quickly, disguised as Queen of the Faeries (and thus humorously as the queen herself) gives directions near the end of the play to "Search Windsor Castle, elves, within and out./ Strew good luck . . . on every sacred room." Windsor, of course, was one of Elizabeth's own castles.

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This page updated August 15, 2003