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.
The play opens with the King of Navarre and three noble companions, Berowne, Dumaine, and Longaville, taking an oath to devote themselves to three years of study, promising not to give in to the company of women – Berowne somewhat more hesitantly than the others. Berowne reminds the king that the princess and her three ladies are coming to the kingdom and it would be suicidal for the King to agree to this law. The King denies what Berowne says, insisting that the ladies make their camp in the field outside of his court. The King and his men meet the princess and her ladies. Instantly, they all fall comically in love.
The main story is assisted by many other humorous sub-plots. A rather heavily-accented Spanish swordsman, Don Adriano de Armado, tries and fails to woo a country wench, Jaquenetta, helped by Moth, his page, and rivalled by Costard, a country idiot. We are also introduced to two scholars, Holofernes and Sir Nathaniel, and we see them converse with each other in schoolboy Latin. In the final act, the comic characters perform a play to entertain the nobles, an idea conceived by Holofernes, where they represent the Nine Worthies. The four Lords – as well as the Ladies' courtier Boyet – mock the play, and Armado and Costard almost come to blows.
At the end of this 'play' within the play, there is a bitter twist in the story. News arrives that the Princess's father has died and she must leave to take the throne. The king and his nobles swear to remain faithful to their ladies, but the ladies, unconvinced that their love is that strong, claim that the men must wait a whole year and a day to prove what they say is true. This is an unusual ending for Shakespeare and Elizabethan comedy. A play mentioned by Francis Meres, Love's Labour's Won, is believed by some to be a sequel to this play.
Love's Labour's Lost is, along with The Tempest, a play without any obvious sources. Cymbeline also falls into this category to some extent, although that play draws strands of its narrative from some texts agreed on by modern scholars. Some possible influences can be found in the early plays of John Lyly, Robert Wilson's The Cobbler's Prophecy (c.1590) and Pierre de la Primaudaye's L'Academie française (1577).
Although there is no known source for the plot, the four main male characters are all loosely based on real historical figures; Navarre is based on Henry IV of France, Berowne on Charles de Gontaut, duc de Biron, Dumain on Charles, Duke of Mayenne and Longaville on Henri I d'Orléans, duc de Longueville.
Date and text 
Most modern scholars believe the play was written in 1595 or 1596, making it contemporaneous with Romeo and Juliet and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Love's Labour's Lost was first published in quarto in 1598 by the bookseller Cuthbert Burby. The title page states that the play was "Newly corrected and augmented by W. Shakespere," which has suggested to some scholars a revision of an earlier version. The play next appeared in print in the First Folio in 1623, with a later quarto in 1631.
Analysis and criticism 
The title is normally given as Love's Labour's Lost. The use of apostrophes varies in early editions. In its first 1598 quarto publication it appears as Loues Labors Lost. In the 1623 First Folio it is Loues Labour's Lost and in the 1631 edition it is Loues Labours Lost. In the Third Folio it appears for the first time with the modern punctuation and spelling as Love's Labour's Lost. In 1935 it was suggested that the title derived from a line in John Florio's His firste Fruites (1578), "We neede not speak so much of loue, al books are ful of lou, with so many authours, that it were labour lost to speake of Loue", a source from which Shakespeare also took the untranslated Venetian proverb Venetia, Venetia/Chi non ti vede non ti pretia (LLL 4.2.92-93) ("Venice, Venice, Who does not see you cannot praise you").
Love's Labour's Lost abounds in sophisticated wordplay, puns, and literary allusions and is filled with clever pastiches of contemporary poetic forms. It is often assumed that it was written for performance at the Inns of Court, whose students would have been most likely to appreciate its style. This style is the principal reason why it has never been among Shakespeare's most popular plays; the pedantic humour makes it extremely inaccessible to contemporary theatregoers.
The earliest recorded performance of the play occurred at Christmas time in 1597 at Court before Queen Elizabeth. A second recorded performance occurred in the first half of January 1605, either at the house of the Earl of Southampton or at that of Robert Cecil, Lord Cranborne. The first known production after Shakespeare's era was not until a Covent Garden version in 1839, with Elizabeth Vestris as Rosaline.
Gerald Finzi wrote incidental music to the play Love's Labour's Lost for a BBC live radio broadcast of the play in 1946. The music was subsequently converted into an orchestral suite.
The play was one of the last works to be recorded for the BBC Television Shakespeare project, broadcast in 1985. It was unique in that the production set events in the eighteenth century, the costumes and sets being modelled on the paintings of Watteau. This was the only instance in the project of a work set in a period after Shakespeare's death. The play is featured in an episode of the British TV show, Doctor Who. The episode, The Shakespeare Code, also featured Shakespeare in it. The play is used as a portal for alien witches.
Radio adaptation of the Shakespeare play. A written transcript of the production is held at the Birmingham Central Library as part of their Shakespeare Collection. Gerald Finzi's Love's Labour's Lost Suite had its origins in this performance. "The small-scale radio context meant that it was originally scored for a small chamber orchestra." -Julie Sanders, Shakespeare and Music: Afterlives and Borrowings, Cambridge, UK 2007.
BBC Radio 3. Aired 22 February 1979. Director: David Spenser Music: Derek Oldfield Cast: Michael Kitchen-Ferdinand, King of Navarre; John McEnery- Berowne; Anna Massey Princess of France; Eileen Atkins- Rosaline; Paul Scofield- Don Adriano de Armado; Andrew Branch-Dumaine; Christopher Biggins Anthony-Dull; Clifford Abrahams-Moth; Clifford Rose-Nathaniel; Denise Coffey-Jaquenetta; Elizabeth Proud-Maria; Eric Allan-Monsieur Marcade; Frances Jeater-Katherine; Jeremy Clyde-Longaville; John Baddeley-Costard, John Rye-Boyet; Robert Stephens-Holofernes
See also 
- Knutson, Roslynn, The Repertory of Shakespeare's Company, 1594–1613 (Fayatteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1991): 75.
- Woudhuysen, H. R., ed. Love's Labours Lost (London: Arden Shakespeare, 1998): 61.
- Kerrigan, J. ed. "Love's Labours Lost", New Penguin Shakespeare, Harmondsworth 1982, ISBN 0-14-070738-7
- G.R. Hibbard (editor), Love's Labour's Lost (Oxford University Press, 1990), p.49
- Woudhuysen, H. R., ed. Love's Labour's Lost (London: Arden Shakespeare, 1998): 59.
-  See title page of facsimile of the original 1st edition (1598)
- J. O. Halliwell-Phillips, Memoranda on Love's Labour's Lost, King John, Othello, and on Romeo and Juliet, READ BOOKS, 2008 (reprint), p.11.
- Yates, Frances A. A Study of Love's Labour's Lost. Pennsylvania: Folcroft Press (1936), p. 35.
- Elam, Keir. "'At the cubiculo': Shakespeare’s Problems with Italian Language and Culture" in Italian culture in the drama of Shakespeare & his contemporaries: Rewriting, Remaking, Refashioning, Michele Marrapodi, ed. Anglo-Italian Renaissance Studies Series. Aldershot: Ashgate, pp. 99–110; p. 100. ISBN 978-0-7546-5504-6.
- Woudhuysen, H.R. (2001). "Love's Labour's Lost". In Proudfoot, Richard, et al. The Arden Shakespeare complete works (2 ed.). London: Thomson. p. 743. ISBN 978-1-903436-61-5.
- F. E. Halliday, A Shakespeare Companion 1564–1964, Baltimore, Penguin, 1964; pp. 288–89.
- Joseph, Gerhard (1969). Tennysonian Love: The Strange Diagonal. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. p. 79. ISBN 978-0-8166-5800-8.
- Martin Wiggins, The (BBC DVD) Shakespeare Collection: Viewing Notes (booklet included with the DVD box-set)
Editions of Love's Labour's Lost 
- Bate, Jonathan and Rasmussen, Eric (eds.) Love's Labour's Lost (The RSC Shakespeare; London: Macmillan, 2008)
- Arthos, John (ed.) Love's Labour's Lost (Signet Classic Shakespeare; New York: Signet, 1965; revised edition, 1988; 2nd revised edition 2004)
- Carroll, William C. (ed.) Love's Labour's Lost (The New Cambridge Shakespeare; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009)
- David, Richard T. (ed.) Love's Labour's Lost (The Arden Shakespeare, 2nd Series; London: Arden, 1951)
- Evans, G. Blakemore (ed.) The Riverside Shakespeare (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1974; 2nd edn., 1997)
- Greenblatt, Stephen; Cohen, Walter; Howard, Jean E. and Maus, Katharine Eisaman (eds.) The Norton Shakespeare: Based on the Oxford Shakespeare (London: Norton, 1997)
- Harbage, Alfred (ed.) Love's Labour's Lost (The Pelican Shakespeare; London: Penguin, 1963; revised edition 1973)
- Hart, H.C. (ed.) Love's Labour's Lost (The Arden Shakespeare, 1st Series; London: Arden, 1906)
- Hibbard, G.R. (ed.) Love's Labour's Lost (The Oxford Shakespeare; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990)
- Holland, Peter (ed.) Love's Labour's Lost (The Pelican Shakespeare, 2nd Edition; London: Penguin, 2000)
- Kerrigan, John (ed.) Love's Labour's Lost (The New Penguin Shakespeare; London: Penguin, 1982; revised edition 1996)
- Quiller-Couch, Arthur and Dover Wilson, John (eds.) Love's Labour' Lost (The New Shakespeare; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1923; 2nd edn. edited by Dover Wilson only, 1962)
- Walton, Nicholas (ed.) Love's Labour's Lost (The New Penguin Shakespeare 2nd edition; London: Penguin, 2005)
- Wells, Stanley; Taylor, Gary; Jowett, John and Montgomery, William (eds.) The Oxford Shakespeare: The Complete Works (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986; 2nd edn., 2005)
- Werstine, Paul and Mowat, Barbara A. (eds.) Love's Labour's Lost (Folger Shakespeare Library; Washington: Simon & Schuster, 1996)
- Woudhuysen, H.R. (ed.) Love's Labour's Lost (The Arden Shakespeare, 3rd Series; London: Arden, 1998)
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- Complete Text of Love's Labour's Lost at MIT
- MaximumEdge.com Shakespeare: Love's Labour's Lost – searchable scene-indexed version of the play.
- Loues Labour's lost – HTML version of this title.
- Loves Labour Lost – plain vanilla text from Project Gutenberg
- Loves Labour's Lost – British Library