Discover the Number of Plays Shakespeare Wrote


During the Elizabethan era, one playwright emerged as a literary genius whose works continue to captivate audiences centuries later – William Shakespeare. Known for his remarkable contributions to English literature, Shakespeare’s plays have become an integral part of our cultural heritage. But have you ever wondered just how many plays he actually wrote?

Shakespeare’s prolific writing career spanned over two decades, during which he produced an impressive body of work. His plays encompass a wide range of genres, including tragedies, comedies, and histories. However, determining the exact number of plays attributed to Shakespeare can be a topic of debate among scholars.

In this blog post, we will delve into the world of Shakespearean plays, exploring the total number of plays he wrote, the consensus on his canonized works, as well as the contested plays that still spark controversy. Join us as we unravel the mysteries surrounding Shakespeare’s plays and uncover the enduring legacy of this unparalleled playwright.



Shakespeare’s plays hold a prominent place in the world of literature, making him one of the most celebrated playwrights in history. Born in the Elizabethan era, William Shakespeare crafted timeless works that continue to captivate audiences to this day. His remarkable ability to explore a wide range of human emotions and themes through his plays has solidified his position as an icon in the literary world.

During the Elizabethan era, theater flourished, and Shakespeare took full advantage of this vibrant stage. His plays encompass various genres, including tragedies, comedies, and historical dramas, showcasing his versatility as a writer. Shakespeare’s plays not only entertained the masses but also reflected and commented on societal norms, political issues, and human nature.

One of the fascinating aspects of Shakespeare’s plays is the sheer number of works attributed to him. Scholars have extensively studied and analyzed his works, contributing to a comprehensive understanding of his plays. It is important to note that while the exact number of plays Shakespeare wrote may vary depending on different factors, there are several universally accepted works that constitute his renowned canon.

In the following sections, we will delve deeper into Shakespeare’s plays, exploring the total number of works attributed to him, as well as the distinction between his canonized plays and those that are still debated. By the end, you’ll gain a greater appreciation for the breadth and depth of Shakespeare’s literary contributions.

Let’s embark on a journey to uncover the world of Shakespeare’s plays and discover the enduring legacy left behind by this extraordinary playwright.

Overview of Shakespeare’s Works

Overview of Shakespeare’s Works

Shakespearean plays are widely regarded as some of the greatest works in the history of literature. They have left an indelible mark on the world of theater and continue to captivate audiences even today. Shakespeare’s works can be classified into different genres, each with its own unique characteristics and themes.


One of the prominent genres of Shakespearean plays is tragedies. These plays explore the darker aspects of human nature, focusing on themes such as ambition, revenge, and fate. Examples of Shakespearean tragedies include “Hamlet,” “Macbeth,” and “Romeo and Juliet.” These plays often feature complex characters who face moral dilemmas, leading to their tragic downfall.


In stark contrast to the tragedies, Shakespeare also wrote numerous comedies that offer light-hearted entertainment and humor. These plays often involve mistaken identities, witty wordplay, and romantic entanglements. Some well-known Shakespearean comedies include “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Twelfth Night,” and “Much Ado About Nothing.” These plays provide a joyful escape and deliver laughter to the audience.


Shakespeare was not only interested in exploring the human condition through tragedies and comedies but also delved into historical accounts. His history plays depict significant events and figures from British history, offering insights into power struggles, political intrigue, and the complexities of leadership. Famous history plays by Shakespeare include “Richard III,” “Henry V,” and “Julius Caesar.”

It is remarkable how Shakespeare mastered multiple genres, showcasing his versatility and brilliance as a playwright. His ability to seamlessly transition between tragedies, comedies, and histories demonstrates his deep understanding of human emotions, societal dynamics, and the art of storytelling.

Each genre has its own distinct characteristics, yet Shakespeare skillfully infused his plays with universal themes and relatable characters. His works continue to resonate with audiences of all ages and cultures, making him an enduring figure in the world of literature.

In the next section, we will delve into the total number of plays Shakespeare wrote, exploring both the accepted canonized plays as well as those that are still debated among scholars.

Total Number of Plays

Total Number of Plays

Shakespeare’s legacy as a playwright is unparalleled, with his works continuing to captivate audiences centuries after they were written. When it comes to the total number of plays Shakespeare wrote, there is some debate and uncertainty. However, scholars generally agree that he wrote a significant number of plays throughout his career.

The complete works of Shakespeare consist of a diverse range of plays, showcasing his versatility as a playwright. These plays are categorized into different genres, including tragedies, comedies, and histories, each presenting unique themes and storytelling techniques.

Accepted Plays

In terms of accepted plays, there is a consensus among scholars on the majority of Shakespeare’s works. These plays, often referred to as the “canon,” are widely recognized and studied in academic circles. They include iconic works such as “Romeo and Juliet,” “Hamlet,” “Macbeth,” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” In total, Shakespeare is believed to have written around 37 plays that are universally accepted as his own.

Debated Plays

However, there are also several plays that are still subject to debate and speculation when it comes to their authorship or inclusion in Shakespeare’s canon. Some of these plays are attributed to collaborations or co-written works, while others are considered lost or incomplete.

One example of a debated play is “Pericles, Prince of Tyre.” While it is included in some editions of Shakespeare’s complete works, its authorship remains uncertain, and it is often questioned whether Shakespeare had any involvement in its creation. Other disputed plays include “Edward III” and “The Two Noble Kinsmen.”

It’s important to note that the number of debated plays varies depending on scholarly interpretations, with estimates ranging from 38 to 40 plays in total for Shakespeare’s body of work.

Despite the ongoing discussions surrounding these plays, it is undeniable that Shakespeare’s impact on literature and theater is immeasurable. His works have shaped the English language, influenced countless other playwrights, and continue to be performed and celebrated worldwide.

In conclusion, while there is some ambiguity regarding the exact number of plays Shakespeare wrote, it is widely accepted that he authored a significant body of work comprising approximately 37 plays. The debate surrounding the inclusion of certain plays adds an intriguing aspect to his legacy, sparking discussions among scholars and theater enthusiasts alike. Shakespeare’s contributions to the world of drama remain unrivaled, cementing his status as one of the greatest playwrights in history.

The Canonized Plays

The Canonized Plays

In the world of Shakespearean literature, the term “canon” refers to a collection of works that are considered authentic and accepted as the genuine creations of William Shakespeare. These canonized plays have gained consensus among scholars and are recognized as his most significant and enduring works.

The exact number of plays in the Shakespearean canon is a matter of debate. Generally, it is agreed upon that Shakespeare wrote a total of 37 plays. These plays encompass a wide range of genres, including tragedies, comedies, and histories. Some of his most renowned works fall under this category, captivating audiences for centuries.

One of the most famous tragedies in the canon is “Hamlet.” This play explores themes of revenge, betrayal, and existential questions, showcasing Shakespeare’s unparalleled mastery of language and deep understanding of human emotions. Another iconic tragedy is “Macbeth,” which delves into the destructive consequences of unchecked ambition and guilt.

In addition to tragedies, Shakespeare’s canon includes several memorable comedies. One such play is “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” a whimsical and enchanting tale of love, mistaken identities, and magical creatures. This comedy demonstrates Shakespeare’s ability to blend humor with social commentary, creating a delightful and thought-provoking experience for the audience.

Shakespeare also penned a series of historical plays that chronicle the lives and events of British monarchs. These include “Richard III,” “Henry V,” and “Julius Caesar,” among others. Through these works, he not only entertained the masses but also contributed to the nation’s collective memory and understanding of its history.

The recognition of these plays as part of the canon is based on a combination of factors. Scholars analyze the style, language, themes, and historical context to determine their authenticity and authorship. Additionally, the longevity and widespread performance of these works further solidify their acceptance as genuine Shakespearean creations.

While the canonized plays enjoy a consensus among scholars, there are other works attributed to Shakespeare that still spark debate. These contested plays, often referred to as apocryphal or disputed works, include plays like “Pericles” and “The Two Noble Kinsmen.” Some scholars believe these plays were co-authored by other playwrights, while others argue for their inclusion in the Shakespearean canon.

In conclusion, the canonized plays of William Shakespeare represent his most celebrated and accepted works. These plays, encompassing tragedies, comedies, and histories, continue to captivate audiences worldwide. Their enduring popularity and literary merit demonstrate Shakespeare’s genius and contribution to the world of literature and theater.

Contested Plays

Contested Plays

Shakespeare’s legacy is not without its fair share of debates and controversies. Among the vast collection of his works, there are several plays that have been subject to dispute and speculation over the years. In this section, we will delve into the realm of these contested plays, exploring themes of authorship, collaborations, and lost works.

Authorship Questions

One of the primary reasons behind the controversy surrounding some of Shakespeare’s plays is the question of authorship. While many renowned literary scholars and historians attribute these works solely to William Shakespeare, there are skeptics who propose alternative theories. These theories suggest that some plays were possibly written by other authors or co-written with Shakespeare.

Collaborations and Shared Authorship

Collaborations were a common practice during the Elizabethan era, and Shakespeare was known to collaborate with other playwrights. Some critics argue that certain plays credited to Shakespeare might have been a joint effort with fellow writers like Christopher Marlowe or Thomas Middleton. The collaborative nature of theater during that time makes it challenging to determine the exact contributions of each writer involved.

Lost Plays

Another aspect that adds to the mystery surrounding Shakespeare’s works is the existence of lost plays. These are plays that were believed to have been written by Shakespeare but have not survived to the present day. Due to various circumstances such as limited documentation and the destruction of theaters during that period, the texts of these plays have regrettably been lost over time. It is estimated that around 18 plays attributed to Shakespeare are considered lost.

Despite the ongoing debates and uncertainties surrounding disputed plays, it is important to recognize that the majority of Shakespeare’s works remain widely accepted as his own. The enduring brilliance and profound impact of his canonized plays continue to captivate audiences worldwide, solidifying his position as an unparalleled playwright in the history of literature.

Stay tuned for the next section where we will conclude our exploration of Shakespeare’s works and reflect on his lasting legacy.

Note: The authorship debates and contested plays are subjects of ongoing research and scholarly discussion. The views and theories presented in this section represent different perspectives but do not necessarily reflect a consensus among experts.



Shakespeare’s legacy as a playwright is truly unparalleled. His influence on literature, theater, and the English language is immeasurable. Even centuries after his death, his works continue to captivate audiences around the world.

One of the reasons for Shakespeare’s enduring legacy is the sheer brilliance and diversity of his plays. From timeless tragedies like “Romeo and Juliet” and “Hamlet” to witty comedies such as “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Much Ado About Nothing,” Shakespeare showcased his extraordinary talent in various genres. His ability to delve into universal themes of love, power, and human nature resonates with people of all backgrounds.

Moreover, Shakespeare’s impact extends beyond the realm of theater. Many common phrases and expressions that we use today have their origins in his works. For instance, phrases like “all’s well that ends well” and “brevity is the soul of wit” have become embedded in the English language thanks to Shakespeare’s contributions. His innovative use of language and his creation of unforgettable characters continue to inspire writers and artists even in the modern era.

Additionally, Shakespeare’s plays have been adapted countless times across different mediums, including film, television, and even music. These adaptations serve as a testament to the timelessness and universality of his stories. Whether it’s Leonardo DiCaprio’s iconic portrayal of Romeo or Kenneth Branagh’s masterful interpretation of Hamlet, Shakespeare’s characters continue to be reimagined and brought to life in new and exciting ways.

In conclusion, Shakespeare’s legacy as an unparalleled playwright is a testament to his exceptional talent, creativity, and profound understanding of the human condition. His works continue to shape and inspire the literary world, and his influence will undoubtedly endure for generations to come. As we celebrate his contributions, let us remember the immortal words of Shakespeare himself: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.”
Shakespeare’s unparalleled contributions to literature continue to captivate audiences worldwide. From his tragedies to his comedies and histories, his plays have stood the test of time. In this article, we explored the question of how many plays Shakespeare wrote.

We discovered that while the exact number remains debated, there is a consensus on the canonized plays that are accepted as his genuine works. These plays showcase the brilliance of Shakespeare’s storytelling, language, and characters.

However, it is worth noting that there are also contested plays whose authorship and authenticity are still subject to scholarly discussions. These debates add an intriguing layer to the legacy of Shakespeare, sparking curiosity and inspiring further research into his body of work.

Regardless of the precise count, what remains undeniable is the impact of Shakespeare’s plays. They have not only shaped the literary landscape but also influenced countless artists, writers, and thinkers over the centuries.

As we reflect on the magnitude of Shakespeare’s accomplishments, we cannot help but marvel at the enduring power of his words. His plays continue to be performed and studied across the globe, reminding us of the timeless themes and universal emotions they explore.

In conclusion, the number of plays Shakespeare wrote may be a topic of debate, but the significance of his works is unquestionable. His plays offer insights into the human condition, entertain audiences, and serve as a testament to the genius of one of history’s greatest playwrights. Shakespeare’s legacy lives on, and his plays will continue to inspire and resonate for generations to come.

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