In 1598, the play is mentioned by Francis Meres in a list of Shakespeare’s works. Scholars suggest it was written in the early 1590s, at the beginning of his career, with the possibility it could be even earlier.
The play first appears in the First Folio. It was probably typeset from a reliable manuscript, prepared by Ralph Crane (a professional scribe employed by the King’s Men), who copied it from Shakespeare’s manuscripts, or an earlier copy.
‘This love of theirs myself have often seen,
Haply when they have judged me fast asleep.’
The Two Gentlemen of Verona, III i
Brief synopsis of the play
Valentine loves Silvia; his friend Proteus loves Julia – but Proteus is fickle and becomes infatuated with Silvia. When Valentine plots an elopement, Proteus betrays him. Valentine is banished by the Duke and joins outlaws in the forest. Silvia pursues Valentine; Proteus pursues Silvia; Julia (disguised as a boy) pursues Proteus. The servants Speed and Launce – and a dog – add comic counterpoint to this anarchic whirligig of a comedy.