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Although published in 1598, Love's Labour's Lost was probably written some years before publication in 1593 or 1594. The first edition seems to be a revised version of the play, and while it carries Shakespeare's name on the title page, it also refers to a performance before the Queen "this last Christmas. Newly corrected and augmented by W. Shakespeare". As a play, Love's Labour's Lost provoked a great deal of censure in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Dr. Johnson remarked that "there are many passages mean, childish and vulgar, and some which ought not to have been exhibited to a maiden queen". John Dover Wilson, however, crowns it with praise, insisting that it is "full of fun, of permanent wit". It is clear this play is one that evokes incredibly mixed opinions.
Love's Labour's Lost is essentially a play of language and of human nature, for it has a comparatively simple plot, devoid of intrigue. There seems to be no known source for the play, although there is some historical basis for the plot. Shakespeare uses as a backdrop to this satirical drama the fact that in 1578, Catherine de Media of France, escorted by her daughter Marguerite and other ladies in her entourage, sailed to the court of Henry of Navarre, in order to settle the matter of final sovereignty of the Aquitane region.