The play’s style and stage directions suggest that it was written for performance in the Blackfriars Theatre, used by the King’s Men from late 1609. A performance of the play is first noted by the astrologer Simon Forman: we don’t know on what date, but he died in 1611. It was probably written between those years.

The play wasn’t printed before appearing in the First Folio. It was probably typeset from a reliable manuscript, written by Ralph Crane, a professional scribe employed by the King’s Men, which he copied from Shakespeare’s manuscripts or an earlier transcript of them.


‘Fear no more the heat o’th’sun,
Nor the furious winter’s rages,
Thou thy worldly task has done,
Home art gone and ta’en thy wages’

Cymbeline, IV ii

Brief synopsis of the play

Imogen, daughter of King Cymbeline of Britain, defies him by marrying Posthumus, but her husband is banished to Italy.  There the callous villain Iachimo lays a wager on her fidelity and embarks on an elaborate plan: Posthumus is deceived, and decides that Imogen should die. This strange and complex romantic play, using Imogen as a metaphor for Britain itself, follows her escape, both from the corrupt royal court and the devastating effects of Iachimo’s plotting, to a final revelation, reunion, and peace.