An online dramaturgical casebook.

Historical Context

A Midsummer Night’s Dream was first performed around 1594 or 1595.

  • 1558-1603: Reign of Elizabeth I.
  • 1588 forward: After the defeat of the Spanish Armada, repression of Catholicism increases.
  • 1592-3: Plague periodically ravages London, closing the theaters. While the theaters are closed, Shakespeare writes his poems Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece.
  • 1593: Alice, John and Agnes Samuel, the Witches of Warboys, are found guilty of witchcraft and hanged.
  • 1593: Christopher Marlowe is killed in a bar-room brawl.
  • 1594: The Lord Chamberlain’s Men take over the playing of Shakespeare’s plays, a company partially owned by Shakespeare.
  • 1594: The Nine Years War, an uprising by Irish Catholics backed by Spain, begins. It lasts until 1603, a few days after Elizabeth I’s death.
  • 1596: Blackfriar’s Theatre opens.
  • 1596: Shakespeare’s son Hamnet dies at age 11.

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