The Merry Wives of Windsor is a comedy by William Shakespeare, first published in 1602, though believed to have been written prior to 1597. The Windsor of the play's title is a reference to Windsor Castle in Berkshire, England. Though nominally set in the early 15th century, the play makes no pretence to exist outside contemporary Elizabethan era English middle class life. It features the character Sir John Falstaff, the fat, joke-loving knight who had previously been featured in Henry IV Parts 1 and 2 as the recreational companion of the future King Henry V. It has been adapted for the opera on several occasions. most famously by Giuseppe Verdi.