Speech headings in the first edition suggest the character of Dogberry was written for the comic actor Will Kemp who left the Chamberlain’s Men in 1599. Probably written between mid-1598 and mid-1599.
The play was first printed as a quarto in 1600, possibly typeset from Shakespeare’s manuscript, or a copy. The First Folio version was typeset mainly from the quarto, with light corrections.
‘I love you with so much of my heart that none
is left to protest.’
Much Ado About Nothing, IV i
Brief synopsis of the play
The love story is driven by episodes of staged eavesdropping: the resolute singletons Benedick and Beatrice are both tricked into discovering and admitting their feelings for each other. Meanwhile, Claudio loves Leonato’s daughter, Hero, but the resentful Don John fools Claudio into believing that Hero is unfaithful. The suspenseful drama is offset by the pomposity of the constable Dogberry, and by the glittering badinage of Beatrice and Benedick.