In Shakespeare's day the play was also known as All is True. However, scholars are divided on whether this was a subtitle or the original main title.
When was Henry VIII first performed?
The date of the first performance of Henry VIII is unknown. The earliest recorded performance of the play was by the King's Men on June 29, 1613, at the Globe Theatre. The cannon fire called for in the first act of the play set the thatched roof ablaze and the Globe burned to the ground. According to tradition, Shakespeare likely directed the performance himself. We have many contemporary accounts of the fire, but the most famous is the account written by a spectator named Sir Henry Wotton:
Now, to let matters of state sleep, I will entertain you at the present with what happened this week at the Bankside. The King's players had a new play, called All is True, representing some principal pieces of the reign of Henry VIII, which was set forth with many extraordinary circumstances of pomp and majesty, even to the matting of the stage; the Knights of the Order with their Georges and garters, the Guards with their embroidered coats, and the like: sufficient in truth within a while to make greatness very familiar, if not ridiculous. Now, King Henry making a masque at the Cardinal Wolsey's house, and certain chambers being shot off at his entry, some of the paper, or other stuff, wherewith one of them was stopped, did light on the thatch, where being thought at first but an idle smoke, and their eyes more attentive to the show, it kindled inwardly, and ran round like a train, consuming within less than an hour the whole house to the very grounds.
Lee, Sidney. A Life of William Shakespeare. London: Lee, Smith, Elder, and Co., 1899.
How to cite this article:
Mabillard, Amanda. Henry VIII Q & A. Shakespeare Online. 20 Aug. 2000. (date when you accessed the information) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/faq/henryVIIIfaq.html >.