A performance is first noted by the astrologer Simon Forman, who saw it at the Globe Theatre on 15th May 1611. It may have been new, but scholars generally agree that its style and content could date it as early as 1609.
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.
‘Music, awake her, strike!
’Tis time; descend; be stone no more; approach;
Strike all that look upon with marvel.’
The Winter’s Tale, V iii
Brief synopsis of the play
Consumed by unfounded jealousy, King Leontes becomes convinced that his wife Hermione has committed adultery with his childhood friend Polixenes. He sends his infant daughter, Perdita, away to her death. After Hermione is reported dead, Leontes discovers her innocence and is inconsolable with grief and remorse. Perdita survives to provide redemption, in a play that weaves together human psychology and divine magic.