London’s theatres were closed from 1593 to 1594 by order of the Privy Council, who were the Queen’s main advisers and governed on her behalf. The Council closed the theatres because there had been an outbreak of plague in London. The city’s “players” returned to the life they had led before they were allowed to set up theatres. They toured England with their props and costumes packed in wagons, so they could set up a stage in every town they passed through. Shakespeare also took the opportunity to make some money on the side. It was during the closure of the theatres that he published his two long narrative poems,
Venus and Adonis
The Rape of
. Venus and Adonis in particular was a bestseller, and may have been the work Shakespeare was best known for in his own lifetime. It’s probable that he wrote many of his sonnets during this period too.