Henry IV, Part 2 is believed to have been written sometime between 1596 and 1599. It is possible that Shakespeare interrupted his composition of Henry IV, Part 2 somewhere around Act 3-Act 4, so as to concentrate on writing Merry Wives of Windsor, which may have been commissioned for an annual meeting of the Order of the Garter, possibly the one held on 23 April 1597.
The play was entered into the Register of the Stationers' Company in 1600 by the booksellers Andrew Wise and William Aspley. The play was published in quarto the same year (printing by Valentine Simmes). Less popular than Henry IV, Part 1, this was the only quarto edition. The play next saw print in the First Folio in 1623.
The quarto's title-page states that the play had been "sundry times publicly acted" before publication. Extant records suggest that both parts of Henry IV were acted at Court in 1612—the records rather cryptically refer to the plays as Sir John Falstaff and Hotspur. A defective record, apparently to the Second part of Falstaff, may indicate a Court performance in 1619.