The history of Pembroke’s Men is one of the most intriguing and frustrating in

Elizabethan theatre history. On the one hand, Pembroke’s Men experienced an

incredibly rapid rise to prominence, followed by a spectacular collapse, in the

course of two years. On the other hand, little evidence survives to cast light on

where this company came from, how it was able to attain immediate success, and

what players were active in it during its brief life. A handful of Pembroke’s plays

survive; numerous provincial notices testify to its 1592-93 activities; and two court

performances in 1592-93 are recorded. Apart from this information, Pembroke’s

Men remains an unknown quantity. Many scholars have tried to identify the origin,

personnel, and repertory of Pembroke’s, with wildly divergent results. It should

come as no surprise that some of these results conclude William Shakespeare was a

member of this short-lived, but important, playing company.