The play was written in Middle English during the Tudor period, but the identity of the author is unknown. Although the play was apparently produced with some frequency in the seventy-five years following its composition, no production records survive.
There is a similar Dutch-language morality play of the same period called Elckerlijc. In the early 20th century, scholars did not agree on which of these plays was the original, or even on their relation to a later Latin work named Homulus. By the 1980s, Arthur Cawley went so far as to say that the "evidence for … Elckerlijk is certainly very strong", and now Davidson, Walsh, and Broos hold that "more than a century of scholarly discussion has ... convincingly shown that Everyman is a translation and adaptation from the Dutch Elckerlijc".