The plague closed London's theatres for a time in 1593. What was an aspiring dramatist to do? Doubtless Shakespeare carried on writing plays, but it also provided an opportunity to write a long erotic poem, Venus and Adonis, consisting of 1194 lines written in 6-line stanzas with the rhymes following an ababcc pattern.
In the dedication that precedes the poem, we read that it is 'the first heir of my invention'. It may have been his first complete work as a writer.
The poem was entered on the Stationer's Register on 18 April 1593 In the Dedication to the Earl of Southampton, Shakespeare talks about vowing 'to take aduantage of all idle houres, till I haue honoured you with some grauer labour'. This would be The Rape of Lucrece.