Published online by Cambridge University Press: 29 August 2010
Love's Labour's Lost was published for the first time in quarto with the following title:—
“A ∣ Pleasant ∣ Conceited Comedie ∣ called ∣ Loues labors lost. ∣ As it was presented before her Highnes ∣ this last Christmas ∣ Newly corrected and augmented ∣ By W. Shakespere. ∣ Imprinted at London by W. W. ∣ for Cuthbert Burby, 1598.”
The folio edition is, more or less, a reprint of this quarto, differing mainly in its being divided into acts. The Cambridge editors add, “and as usual inferior in accuracy;” but in that sweeping judgment I cannot agree. In some cases the readings of the Quarto are preferable, in others those of the Folio. The Second Quarto (Q.2) is reprinted from the First Folio.
It bears the following title :—
“ Loues Labours lost. ∣ A wittie and pleasant ∣ comedie, ∣ As it was Acted by his Maiesties Seruants at ∣ the Blacke-Friers and the Globe. ∣ Written ∣ By William Shakespeare. ∣ London, ∣ Printed by W. S. for John Smethwicke, and are to be ∣ sold at his shop in Saint Dunstones Church-yard vnder the Diall. 1631.”
The date of this play may be fixed with tolerable accuracy about 1589–90. It certainly is one of Shakespeare's earliest, if the evidence, afforded by metre and style, is worth anything. As compared with The Comedy of Errors, Love's Labour ;s Lost has nearly twice as many rhymed lines as blank verse, while the former play has only one rhyme in three.