Love's Labour's Won

Love's Labour's Won

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Love's Labour's Won is the name of a play written by William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 before 1598. The play appears to have been published by 1603, but no copies are known to have survived. One theory holds that it is a lost work, possibly a sequel to Love's Labour's Lost
Love's Labour's Lost
Love's Labour's Lost is one of William Shakespeare's early comedies, believed to have been written in the mid-1590s, and first published in 1598.-Title:...

. Another theory is that the title is an alternative name for a known Shakespeare play.

Theories and evidence

The first mention of the play occurs in Francis Meres
Francis Meres
Francis Meres was an English churchman and author.He was born at Kirton in the Holland division of Lincolnshire in 1565. He was educated at Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he received a B.A. in 1587 and an M.A. in 1591. Two years later he was incorporated an M.A. of Oxford...

 Palladis Tamia, Wits Treasury
Palladis Tamia
Palladis Tamia, subtitled "Wits Treasury", is a 1598 book written by the minister Francis Meres. Meres calls it "A Comparative Discourse of our English Poets, with the Greek, Latin, and Italian Poets", and is important in English literary history as the first critical account of the poems and early...

(1598) in which he lists a dozen Shakespeare plays. His list of Shakespearean comedies reads:
"for Comedy, witnes his Ge[n]tleme[n] of Verona
The Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Two Gentlemen of Verona is a comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1590 or 1591. It is considered by some to be Shakespeare's first play, and is often seen as his first tentative steps in laying out some of the themes and tropes with which he would later deal in more...

, his Errors
The Comedy of Errors
The Comedy of Errors is one of William Shakespeare's earliest plays. It is his shortest and one of his most farcical comedies, with a major part of the humour coming from slapstick and mistaken identity, in addition to puns and word play. The Comedy of Errors is one of only two of Shakespeare's...

, his Loue labors loſt
Love's Labour's Lost
Love's Labour's Lost is one of William Shakespeare's early comedies, believed to have been written in the mid-1590s, and first published in 1598.-Title:...

, his Loue labours wonne, his Midſummers night dreame, & his Merchant of Venice".

Shakespeare scholars have several theories about the play. The first is that Love's Labour's Won may have been a lost sequel to Love's Labour's Lost
Love's Labour's Lost
Love's Labour's Lost is one of William Shakespeare's early comedies, believed to have been written in the mid-1590s, and first published in 1598.-Title:...

, depicting the further adventures of the King of Navarre, Berowne, Longaville, and Dumain, whose marriages were delayed at the end of Love's Labour's Lost. In the final moments of Love's Labour's Lost the weddings that customarily close Shakespeare's comedies are unexpectedly deferred for a year without any obvious purpose for the plot, which would allow for the events of a sequel.

Another longtime theory held that Love's Labour's Won was an alternative name for The Taming of the Shrew
The Taming of the Shrew
The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1590 and 1591.The play begins with a framing device, often referred to as the Induction, in which a mischievous nobleman tricks a drunken tinker named Sly into believing he is actually a nobleman himself...

, which had been written several years earlier and is noticeably missing from Meres' list. However, in 1953, one Solomon Pottesman, a London based antiquarian book dealer and collector, discovered the August 1603 book list of the stationer Christopher Hunt
Christopher Hunt
Christopher Hunt was an Exeter bookseller and stationer.-Life:He was the son of Walter Hunt, a cordwainer of Blandford in Dorset. On 12 January 1585 he apprenticed himself to Thomas Man, a London stationer for a period of eight years, beginning the previous Christmas day...

, which lists as printed in quarto
Quarto could refer to:* Quarto, a size or format of a book in which four leaves of a book are created from a standard size sheet of paper* For specific information about quarto texts of William Shakespeare's works, see:...

"marchant of vennis, taming of a shrew, ... loves labor lost, loves labor won."

The find provided evidence that the play might be a unique work that had been published but lost and not an early title of The Taming of the Shrew.

Yet another possibility is that the name is an alternative title for another Shakespearean comedy not listed by Meres or Hunt. Much Ado About Nothing
Much Ado About Nothing
Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy written by William Shakespeare about two pairs of lovers, Benedick and Beatrice, and Claudio and Hero....

, commonly believed to be written around 1598, is often suggested, as is All's Well That Ends Well
All's Well That Ends Well
All's Well That Ends Well is a play by William Shakespeare. It is believed to have been written between 1604 and 1605, and was originally published in the First Folio in 1623....

. For example, Henry Woudhuysen's Arden edition
Arden Shakespeare
The Arden Shakespeare is a long-running series of scholarly editions of the works of William Shakespeare. It presents fully edited modern-spelling editions of the plays and poems, with lengthy introductions and full commentaries...

 (Third Series) of Love's Labour's Lost lists a number of striking similarities between the two plays. However, Much Ado about Nothing is also listed under another alternative title, Bendick and Beatrice, in several book seller's catalogues, and it is unlikely that it would have been known by two alternative titles.

Leslie Hotson speculated that Love's Labour's Won was the former title of Troilus and Cressida
Troilus and Cressida
Troilus and Cressida is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1602. It was also described by Frederick S. Boas as one of Shakespeare's problem plays. The play ends on a very bleak note with the death of the noble Trojan Hector and destruction of the love between Troilus...

, pointing out that Troilus and Cressida did not appear in Palladis Tamia, a view that has been criticised by Kenneth Palmer for requiring a "forced interpretation of the play". In addition, the play is generally considered to have been written c. 1602.

Popular culture

In Caryl Brahms
Caryl Brahms
Caryl Brahms, born Doris Caroline Abrahams was an English critic, novelist, and journalist specialising in the theatre and ballet. She also wrote film, radio and television scripts....

 and S. J. Simon
S. J. Simon
S.J. "Skid" Simon was a British author and bridge player. From 1937 until his death he collaborated with Caryl Brahms on a series of comic novels and short stories, mostly with a background of ballet or of English history...

's satiric novel No Bed for Bacon (1941), Shakespeare tries to find time during the rehearsals of his plays to write Love's Labour's Wonne but never gets beyond the title. It is also featured in the novels Love Lies Bleeding
Love Lies Bleeding (novel)
Love Lies Bleeding is a detective novel by Edmund Crispin first published in 1948. Set in the post-war period in and around a public school in the vicinity of Stratford-upon-Avon, it is about the accidental discovery of old manuscripts which contain Shakespeare's long-lost play, Love's Labour's...

(1948) by Edmund Crispin
Edmund Crispin
Edmund Crispin was the pseudonym of Robert Bruce Montgomery , an English crime writer and composer.-Life and work:Montgomery was born in Chesham Bois, Buckinghamshire...

, Ruled Britannia
Ruled Britannia
Ruled Britannia is an alternate history novel by Harry Turtledove, first published in hardcover and paperback by Roc Books in 2002.-Plot introduction :The book is set in the year 1597, in an alternate universe where the Spanish Armada is successful...

(2002) by Harry Turtledove
Harry Turtledove
Harry Norman Turtledove is an American novelist, who has produced works in several genres including alternate history, historical fiction, fantasy and science fiction.- Life :...

, Harvard Yard (2003) by William Martin, and What Time Devours (2009) by A.J. Hartley. It is mentioned in the 1993 comedy drama "Shakespeare Country" by Peter Whelan, whose character Billy recites the purported opening lines, in I, Elizabeth (1994) by Rosalind Miles
Rosalind Miles
Rosalind Miles is an author born and raised in England and now living in Kent, England. She has written 23 works of fiction and non-fiction. As a child, Miles suffered from polio, and had to undergo several months of treatment. At high school Miles acquired a working knowledge of Latin and Greek,...

, and in The 39 Clues: Book 10: Into the Gauntlet by children's book author Margaret Peterson Haddix.

The play is featured in "The Shakespeare Code
The Shakespeare Code
"The Shakespeare Code" is an episode of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was broadcast on BBC One on 7 April 2007, and is the second episode of Series 3 of the revived Doctor Who series. According to the BARB figures this episode was seen by 7.23 million viewers and was...

", an episode of the science fiction
Science fiction
Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

 television series Doctor Who
Doctor Who
Doctor Who is a British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The programme depicts the adventures of a time-travelling humanoid alien known as the Doctor who explores the universe in a sentient time machine called the TARDIS that flies through time and space, whose exterior...

first broadcast on 7 April 2007. In the episode, the play is lost because it was written under the influence of magic as a spell to bring forth the end of the world by the Carrionites, a witchlike race. When their plan is foiled, all copies of the cataclysmic play are expelled with them.

In the series of books 39 Clues "Love's Labour Won" is a play about reuniting the Cahill family, who was divided in branches: Lucian, Ekaterina, Tomas, Janus and Madrigal. Shakespeare was himself a Madrigal.