In 1612, a literary sensation swept through London’s cultural class. For the first time, part one of Miguel Cervantes’s 1605 novel Don Quixote was available in English, and it quickly gripped the imagination of the British public.
The great Bard himself, William Shakespeare, was not immune to the charms of the errant Knight of la Mancha and his sidekick Sancho Panza. One can imagine him diving into the book, his eyes lighting up at the kindred feeling he must have felt as he read the tale that exhibited the same themes he was interested in—romantic comedy, historical satire, and human folly.
What Shakespeare read inspired him so much that he—along with his frequent collaborator John Fletcher—picked up his quill and got to work on a new play. He would call this one Cardenio after the character by the same name in Cervantes’ masterpiece.