The Two Gentlemen of Verona is possibly the earliest of Shakespeare’s plays although not entered into the Stationer’s Office it was probably written in 1590-1 and neatly scribed by Ralph Crane. Literary sources include Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-75) with his “Decameron” 10th day, the story of “Titus and Gisippus”, Thomas Elyot, (c.1490-1546) with his “The Booke named the Governour” (1531), Diana Montemayor, (c.1521-61). Jorge de Enamorada (1542, English translation in 1582 and the publication in 1598 of the story of “Felix and Felismena”, another source; as well as an anonymous: “The History of Felix and Philiomena” (the record of the performance in 1585), Arthur Brooke, (?-1563) would have been a great influence with his “The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet” (English translation in 1562), and the secretary of Edward de Vere, John Lyly, (c.1554-1606) who is presumed to have written “Euphues his England” but perhaps under the patronage again of Edward de Vere (1578). Some experts consider Two Gentlemen of Verona to be Shakespeare’s very first play although several versions or renditions of this play have been noted, but essentially the inspiration or motif is derived from the French Renaissance Brotherhood or “Friendship Plays”. However, the number of inconsistencies in scenes and geographic locations suggests an early attempt by an immature Shakespeare at playwriting. Although an autobiographical piece of two friends in rivalry for the same woman, ie; the “All’s Fair in Love & War” theme is also found in Arthur Brooke’s 1562 version of Romeus & Juliet. There are some obvious connections to Ovid’s Metamorphoses in mentioning the song of the nightingale but over the course of history the play has lent itself to various different interpretations and dramatic twists. Its intriguing dramatic structure of combining more than two storylines may have also influenced Shakespeare’s later plays such as “Twelfth Night” and a “Comedy of Errors”.
|The links to my publications “Shakespeare’s Qaballah”, a Companion to Shakespeare Studies and my anthology of poetry, “Parthenogenesis” are as follows:|