A Midsummer Night's Dream is a romantic comedy by William Shakespeare, suggested by "The Knight's Tale" from Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, written around 1594 to 1596. It portrays the adventures of four young Athenian lovers and a group of amateur actors, their interactions with the Duke and Duchess of Athens, Theseus and Hippolyta, and with the fairies who inhabit a moonlit forest. The play is one of Shakespeare's most popular works for the stage and is widely performed across the world.It is not known exactly when A Midsummer Night's Dream was written or first performed, but, on the basis of topical references and an allusion to Spenser's Epithalamion, it is usually dated 1595 or 1596. Some have theorised that the play might have been written for an aristocratic wedding (numerous such weddings took place in 1596), while others suggest that it was written for the Queen to celebrate the feast day of St. John. No concrete evidence exists to support either theory. In any case, it would have been performed at The Theatre and, later, The Globe in London.
Some features of the plot and characters can be traced to elements of earlier mythologically based literature; for example, the story of Pyramus and Thisbe is told in Ovid's Metamorphoses and the transformation of Bottom into an ass is descended from Apuleius' The Golden Ass. Lysander was also an ancient Greek warlord while Theseus and Hippolyta were respectively the Duke of Athens and Queen of the Amazons. In addition, Shakespeare could have been working on Romeo and Juliet at about the same time that he wrote A Midsummer Night's Dream, and it is possible to see Pyramus and Thisbe as a comic reworking of the tragic play. A further, seldom noted source is The Knight's Tale in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.