It is believed that the play was popular in its day because it appears in a separate quarto edition.
Most scholars, including the
The play was popular because the Lord Chamberlain’s Men performed the play. The title-page of the quarto states that Much Ado About Nothing ‘Hath beene sundrie times publikely acted by the Right Honourable, the Lord Chamberlaine his servants’.
The only surviving records for early performances are the payments made by the Lord Chamberlain to John Heminge in May 1613 for presenting several plays, including Much Ado About Nothing, for Princess Elizabeth (daughter of James I) and Frederick, Elector Palatine, who were married that year. Shakespeare wrote the part of Dogberry for the comic William Kemp.
Shakespeare usually found stories that had been “around for many years and were well known to his Elizabethan audiences.” Shakespeare often “blended bits of several stories and wove them into something rich and new that his own audiences could relate to.”
For the merry war between Beatrice and Benedick, there seems to be no specific source, “though Shakespeare would have encountered stories of scorners of love who fall in love (including Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde).”
It is believed that William Shakespeare’s main source for Claudio and Hero plot could have been based upon Canto V of Orlando Furioso (1516, translated into English by Sir John Harington in 1591) and Matteo Bandello’s twenty-second Novella (1554, translated into French by Francois de Belleforest in 1574).
As a result, Lodovico Ariosto, translated by Sir John Harington, wrote Orlando Furioso (1591). Canto V of the poem provided Shakespeare with the marriage between Hero and Claudio and Don John’s plot to prevent it.