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John Norden

Shakespeare in London

Read about William Shakespeare's early career as he built his reputation in London.

Shakespeare’s reputation was established in London by 1592. It was during this time that Shakespeare wrote his earliest plays, including the three parts of Henry VI, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, and Titus Andronicus, though it is often debated which of these plays was actually the first.

Shakespeare’s first printed works were two long poems, Venus and Adonis (1593) and The Rape of Lucrece (1594). These were both dedicated to Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton, who had become Shakespeare’s patron.  

After the plague epidemic abated, a number of actors who had previously belonged to different companies amalgamated to form the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. In 1594, Shakespeare joined others in forming this new theatre company, under the patronage of the Lord Chamberlain, with Richard Burbage as its leading actor. For almost twenty years William Shakespeare was its regular dramatist, producing on average two plays a year. Shakespeare stayed with the Chamberlain’s Men, which would later evolve into the King’s Men under the patronage of King James I, for the rest of his career.

Shakespeare’s success in the London theatres made him considerably wealthy, and by 1597 he was able to purchase New Place, the largest house in the borough of Stratford-upon-Avon. Although his professional career was spent in London, he maintained close links with his native town. Further property investments in Stratford followed, including the purchase of 107 acres of land in 1602.


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