Written Partly by William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
See Shakespeare Study Guides in Kindle Format
With Complete Annotated Texts
By Michael J. Cummings...© 2003
Anthony Munday wrote the original script of Sir Thomas More between 1592 and 1595. However, the master of revels (censor) at that time prevented its performance because he thought scenes showing Londoners rioting might set a bad example. Years before, in 1559, Queen Elizabeth I had issued orders banning the presentation of plays which, in the opinion of government authorities, disparaged the established religion (the Church of England) or the government. Other writers later revised the play, making it less politically provocative. Among those writers was William Shakespeare.
Date Written: Between 1592
The action takes place in London in May of 1517.
Sir Thomas More was a wise and worthy English citizen and public servant who exhibited honesty, right thinking and courage. However, for opposing Henry VIII's marriage to Ann Boleyn, he paid with his head.
Significance to Historians
Shakespeare's revisions (about
three pages) of Munday's play
provide the only surviving examples of his
One of the Shakespeare
considerable skills at oratory and persuasion,
More tells the citizens
that uprisings in defiance of the law offend
the king. And, in
offending the king, a representative of God,
the rioters offend God
remonstrations restore order and cast him as a
wise and worthy public
servant. The play is sympathetic throughout to
More, who was canonized
a saint of the Roman Catholic in 1935.
Shakespeare's participation in
the production of the play created evidence to
further the belief of
some scholars that he
was really a Roman Catholic, like his
not a consenting member of the Church of