The Winter's Tale is a play by William Shakespeare that was first performed in 1611. Read The Winter's Tale here, with side-by-side No Fear translations into modern English.
While King Polixenes of Bohemia visits his childhood friend King Leontes of Sicilia, Camillo discusses the unshakeable friendship between the two with Archidamus. They also discuss the great potential of Leontes' son, Mamillius.
Leontes' pregnant wife Hermione entreats Polixenes to extend his visit, and Leontes becomes convinced they are sleeping together. He tells Camillo to poison Polixenes, but Camillo tells Polixenes instead, and the two escape together.
Leontes learns of Polixenes and Camillo's escape and puts Hermione in prison, certain of her adultery, but he agrees to ask the oracle of Apollo at Delphi before prosecuting his wife.
Paulina speaks with Hermione's lady Emilia in jail, who tells her Hermione gave birth to a girl. Paulina takes the child to show Leontes, hoping it will calm him.
The baby enrages Leontes, and he tells Antigonus to throw her in the fire, but then relents and instructs him to leave the baby in the forest.
Lords Dion and Cleomenes return from Delphi and discuss their hope that the Oracle's response will free Hermione.
Leontes appoints himself judge at court and finds Hermione guilty, despite the Oracle's response that she, Polixenes, and Camillo are innocent. Mamillius dies, then Hermione dies of distress, and Leontes realizes he is wrong.
Antigonus leaves jewels with the infant princess Perdita on the Bohemian coast, and then is eaten by a bear while departing. A Shepherd and his son, a Clown, discover the wealth and pledge to raise Perdita.
Time appears and explains that sixteen years have passed.
King Polixenes denies Camillo's request to return home, saying he is too essential in running the kingdom. Polixenes' son Florizel is spending a lot of time at the house of a wealthy shepherd with a beautiful daughter, so Polixenes and Camillo plan to investigate in disguise.
Autolycus, a thief, comes across the Clown counting money on a highway and pretends to be a robbery victim, and he pickpockets the Clown while they commiserate. The Clown planned to use the money at a sheep-shearing event, so Autolycus plans to go in disguise.
When the disguised Polixenes discovers Florizel and Perdita together, he reveals himself and forbids their engagement, so Florizel and Perdita decide to flee to Sicilia. The Shepherd and the Clown decide to tell Polixenes about Perdita's origin in the forest, but Autolycus misdirects them toward the ship Florizel and Perdita are boarding to Sicilia.
Florizel and Perdita arrive to see Leontes, and they learn that Polixenes and Camillo are coming after them, along with the Shepherd and the Clown. Leontes is eager to greet Polixenes.
In a secondhand story to Autolycus, we learn that the Shepherd reveals how he found Perdita, and Leontes and Polixenes realize that she is Leontes' daughter. Everyone is happy.
Everyone goes to Paulina's home to see the statue of Hermione, and it miraculously comes to life and Hermione is alive again. Paulina and Camillo get engaged.