Sources for The Winter’s Tale

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Shakespeare’s primary source for The Winter’s Tale was Pandosto, an extremely popular novel written by Robert Greene in 1588. Shakespeare followed this text very closely, but, he, of course, added his own special touches. He created the characters of Paulina, Autolycus, and Antigonus, and he merged the characters Franion and Capnio into one — Camillo. The festival Shakespeare included in Act IV and the conversation between Polixenes and Perdita were his own inventions. Other minor sources include Boccaccio’s Decameron, written in 1353 (in particular, Autolycus’ speeches on torture in Act IV, Scene IV); Plutarch’s Lives, which was translated by Thomas North in 1579 (Shakespeare’s main source for the characters’ names); and Ovid’s Metamorphosis.