> Skip to content
About the book
  • Published: 24 June 2015
  • ISBN: 9780141396569
  • Imprint: Penguin Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $19.99

The Winter's Tale




A bravura blend of tragedy, comedy and romance, Shakespeare's emotionally potent late play explores artifice and nature, mortality and renewal, and the destructive and consoling effects of time. 

Though sometimes classified as a 'problem play' for its mix of turbulent emotional and light-hearted comedy, William Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale is a timeless study of jealousy and desire. This Penguin Shakespeare edition is edited by Ernest Schanzer with an introduction by Russ McDonald.
'You may as well
Forbid the sea for to obey the moon
As or by oath remove or counsel shake
The fabric of his folly'
Leontes, the jealous King of Sicily becomes convinced that his wife, Hermione is carrying the child of his best friend Polixenes. Imprisoned and put on trial, the Queen collapses when the King refuses to accept the divine confirmation of her innocence. The child is abandoned to die on the coast of Bohemia. Sixteen years later, Polixenes' son Prince Florizel, incurs his father's wrath by eloping with Perdita, the daughter of a local shepherd. But Perdita's origins are not as humble as they appear...
This book includes a general introduction to Shakespeare's life and the Elizabethan theatre, a separate introduction to The Winter's Tale, a chronology, suggestions for further reading, an essay discussing performance options on both stage and screen, and a commentary.
William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was born to John Shakespeare and Mary Arden some time in late April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. He wrote about 38 plays (the precise number is uncertain), many of which are regarded as the most exceptional works of drama ever produced, including Romeo and Juliet (1595), Henry V (1599), Hamlet (1601), Othello (1604), King Lear (1606) and Macbeth (1606), as well as a collection of 154 sonnets, which number among the most profound and influential love-poetry in English.
If you enjoyed The Winter's Tale, you might like Shakespeare's As You Like It, also available in Penguin Shakespeare.
'The work of Shakespeare is virtually infinite'
Jorge Luis Borges

  • Pub date: 24 June 2015
  • ISBN: 9780141396569
  • Imprint: Penguin Classics
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Author

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, and was baptised on 26 April 1564. His father was a glove maker and wool merchant and his mother, Mary Arden, was the daughter of a well-to-do local land owner. Shakespeare was probably educated in Stratford’s grammar school. In 1582 he married Anne Hathaway, and the couple had a daughter the following year and twins in 1585.

Shakespeare’s theatrical life seems to have commenced around 1590. We do know that he was part of the Lord Chamberlain’s Company, which was renamed the King’s Company in 1603 when James I succeeded to the throne. The Company acquired interests in two theatres in the Southwark area of London, near the banks of the Thames - the Globe and the Blackfriars.

Shakespeare’s poetry was published before his plays, with two poems appearing in 1593 and 1594, dedicated to his patron Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton. Most of Shakespeare’s sonnets were probably written at this time as well.

Records of Shakespeare’s plays begin to appear in 1594, and he produced roughly two a year until around 1611. His earliest plays include Henry VI and Titus Andronicus. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice and Richard II all date from the mid to late 1590s. Some of his most famous tragedies were written in the early 1600s; these include Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth and Antony & Cleopatra. His late plays, often known as the Romances, date from 1608 onwards and include The Tempest.

Shakespeare died on 23 April 1616 and was buried in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. The first collected edition of his works was published in 1623 and is known as ‘the First Folio’.

Also by William Shakespeare

See all

Related titles