In the "Induction" to his play Bartholomew Fair (1614), Ben Jonson alludes to The Spanish Tragedy as being "five and twenty or thirty years" old. If taken literally, this would yield a date range of 1584–89 – a range that agrees with what else is known about the play. However, the exact date of composition is unknown, though it is speculated that it was written somewhere between 1583 and 1591. Most evidence points to a completion date before 1588, noting that the play makes no reference to the Spanish Armada, and because of possible allusions to the play in Nashe's Preface to Greene's Menaphon from 1589 and The Anatomie of Absurdity from 1588–89. Due to this evidence, the year 1587 remains the most likely year for completion of the play.
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