Here’s Why This Shakespeare Play Was Excluded From the First Folio

Shakespeare. We’re all pretty familiar with him and of course his famous plays like Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet or The Merchant of Venice. But I bet you haven’t heard much about Pericles, Prince of Tyre, Shakespeare’s hidden gem.


This may be because there is speculation surrounding who actually wrote the play. 


It is [SPOILER ALERT] a most extraordinary tale. The young ruler of Tyre, Prince Pericles, is forced to flee the city. He sails to Tarsus, a city beset by famine. The kind Prince helps the governor and brings an end to the famine before setting sail again.  

Pericles is greeted by a storm in the seas which wrecks his boat on the shores of Pentapolis. He is rescued by the fishermen who inform him about the tournament organised by the king. The winner of the contest was to marry his daughter, Thaisa. Pericles wins the tournament and marries Thaisa.

I wish that the tale ended happily with the wedding but the writer, Shakespeare or not, had other plans for them.


Image Via Shakespeare Tavern

Image Via Shakespeare Tavern


George Wilkins, a criminal and inn-keeper, is believed by many to be the real writer of this play, not Shakespeare, while others suggest that believe it was co-authored by Wilkins and yet other believe that Wilkins had nothing to do with it. It is difficult to comment on Wilkins true profession as we know so little about him, but it is safe to say that had a zeal for writing. Wilkins published a novel entitled The Painful Adventures of Pericles, Prince of Tyre. The novel follows the storyline of the play closely. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the play was based on the book or vice versa. Wilkins is also believed to be closely related to ‘King’s Men’, Shakespeare’s acting company. Yet it is still a mystery whether this was the case prior to the production of the play.


However, Wilkins writing career and his bonds with ‘King’s Men’ lasted only three years, the time period of production of the play. The play was first staged in the early months of 1619 and Wilkins died (or was perhaps killed) in late 1618, and there has been some speculation whether or not his death was somehow related to the authorship of the play.


In the end, due to the mere uncertainty of the playwright, the play wasn’t originally included in Shakespeare’s First Folio, and thus, the story of Pericles doesn’t receive the recognition it deserves.


Featured Image Via Hollywood Reporter