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Shakespeare & Beyond

Influences for Love's Labor's Lost: Contemporary texts and historical figures

Hunting scene with Elizabeth
Hunting scene with Elizabeth

Love’s Labor’s Lost is one of three Shakespeare plays without a primary source (the others being A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest), but that doesn’t mean it was created in a vacuum. Using four items from the Folger collection, we explore some of the contemporary influences Shakespeare might have drawn on when writing this romantic comedy of scholarly pursuits upended by affairs of the heart.


Ever since I read _The Heptameron_ by Marguerite of Navarre – as mentioned under “Catherine de Medici” as a Princess of France married to the King of Navarre, I’ve wondered if it influenced LLL, particularly the witty repartee between the French/Navarrese nobles, thought to be modeled on Marguerite, Henry, and their closest friends, following each of the stories.

Gerald Carlson — May 18, 2019