While Shakespeare may have been involved in provincial playing before 1588, he

was definitely a part of the London theatre scene by the early 1590s. The exact year

of Shakespeare’s arrival in London is impossible to date with certainty, but as he was

a playwright of some mettle by 1592, it is reasonable to place his arrival sometime in

the late 1580s. As Peter Thomson notes, biographers have often chosen 1587 as the

exact year Shakespeare came to London (Shakespeare’s 20), but some have argued

for earlier as well as later dates.1 Even if Shakespeare did not move to London until

1591, 1588 marks the beginning of a number of key changes that would significantly

alter London playing. Shakespeare, his career, and whatever company or companies

he was affiliated with before 1594 were very much bound up with these changes.