William Shakespeare: Henry IV parts one and two

Part One London: Simon Stafford, 1599 and Part Two London: Valentine Sims 1600 (both Sp Coll Hunterian Co.3.27)

Falstaff's line from Act II, Scene IV of 'Henry IV Part One'.

Only 18 of Shakespeare's plays appeared in print during his lifetime, produced in "quarto" editions. “Quarto” refers to the format of the books – small editions that were (relatively) cheaper to produce and own than larger “folio” size books. The volumes here are therefore representative of the printed format in which Shakespeare himself would have seen his work produced. The early quartos were issued by various publishers, sometimes in unauthorised or abridged pirated editions. Even the so called “bad” quarto versions of the texts (which differ substantially from the plays as we now know them) are extremely important as early sources for Shakespeare’s work. Many quarto editions are now very scarce.

These two early editions of parts one and two of Shakespeare’s Henry IV were published in 1599 (the second edition) and 1600 respectively; they are the only works in Special Collections by Shakespeare that were actually published during his lifetime.

Title page of the first part of 'Henry IV'.

In comparison to some other plays published in this period, Shakespeare's texts include more stage directions. However, in these editions, the plays have not been divided into acts and scenes making navigation through the book difficult.

Double page opening from Shakespeare's 'Henry Fourth Part Two'.

Special Collections also holds the important first edition of Shakespeare's collected plays, known as the First Folio (Sp Coll BD8-b.1); there is a book of the month article which describes this book in some detail.

Also by William Shakespeare and held in Special Collections:

Richard III (1629) Sp Coll Hunterian Co.3.22
Othello (1630) BD1-c.51
Mr. William Shakespeares comedies, histories and tragedies (1632) [Second Folio] Sp Coll Hunterian Dr.2.3 and Sp Coll BD8-b.2
The two noble kinsmen (1634) Sp Coll Hunterian Co.3.32 and Sp Coll BD1-c.75
Richard II (1634) Sp Coll Hunterian Co3.31
Poems (1640) Sp Coll Hunterian Cm.2.10
Mr. William Shakespear's comedies histories and tragedies (1685) [Fourth Folio] Sp Coll f234

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