Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: Henry IV, Part 1: Textual Introduction
  • Author: Rosemary Gaby
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-371-7

    Copyright Rosemary Gaby. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: Rosemary Gaby
    Peer Reviewed

    Henry IV, Part 1: Textual Introduction

    1Early printings

    Henry IV, Part 1 was printed in 1598, within two years of its first performance. It was an unusual move for Shakespeare’s company to sell such a popular play so quickly; the acting companies generally kept box-office successes to themselves for as long as possible. The publication probably had something to do with the Oldcastle controversy (see "Performance History: Early Performances"), confirming as it does that the names Oldcastle, Harvey, and Russell had been permanently changed to Falstaff, Peto and Bardolph. Early single-play editions of Shakespeare’s works were printed in "quarto" form. These were small, relatively economical publications. Instead of gathering together several sheets of paper folded only once, as in the larger "folio" format, quartos were made up from individual sheets which were folded twice to provide four "leaves" (eight pages). The earliest surviving complete quarto of Henry IV, Part 1 is referred to by most editors as Q1.

    2The title page of Q1 tells us that it was printed by Peter Short for Andrew Wise in 1598. Wise had established his rights to the play by listing it in the Stationer’s Register on February 25th the same year. Surprisingly, however, it appears that Q1 was not the first printed version of Henry IV, Part 1 and that two editions were printed within a very short space of time. In the 1860s a single sheet containing eight pages of the play was found in the binding of another book (William Thomas's Rules of the Italian Grammar). This sheet, now held in the Folger Library, has become known as Q0, and it contains part of the dialogue between Northumberland, Hotspur and Worcester in 1.3 (TLN 525 - TLN 632) and all of 2.1 and 2.2 (the Carriers' scene and the Gad's Hill Robbery, TLN 633 - TLN 847). Q0 and Q1 were printed from the same stock of type -- type which included the unusual ligature "oo" -- so it is clear that they were both printed in Peter Short's printing house. It is generally agreed that Q0 was the earlier text and that Q1 was directly printed from Q0 (see Hinman viii). Q1 corrects some obvious errors in Q0 and takes the money-saving step of crowding an extra line into every page. Paper was expensive and the printers could more easily estimate how to fit the play onto ten sheets on their second attempt.

    3 Comparison of Q0 and Q1 has shown that the compositors in Peter Short’s printing house took great care in setting up their type. The word "fat," in Poins’s line "How the fat rogue roared" (TLN 346) is omitted in Q1, but otherwise Q0 is reproduced with remarkable accuracy (diplomatic transcriptions of both Q0 and Q1 are provided on this site). There are three known surviving copies of Q1: one held by the British Library ("Garrick," the source for the ISE facsimile), one held by Trinity College, Cambridge ("Capell"), and one in the Huntington Library ("Devonshire"). In Shakespeare's day corrections made during the print run of a play would be preserved on some sheets, but uncorrected sheets would still be used. Close comparison of the three copies of Q1 reveals only four minor variants: corrections to punctuation and spacing at TLN 1255, TLN 1373, TLN 1572 and TLN 2541. Running titles also differ on a couple of pages (immediately before TLN 1566 and TLN 1688).

    4There are around 250 minor differences between Q0 and Q1, mainly regarding spelling and punctuation preferences, so it seems that they were set by different compositors. Scholars disagree about how many compositors set the type for Q1, but Susan Zimmerman's close study of features like capitalization, punctuation, speech prefixes and spelling preferences suggests that it was most likely set by a single compositor. Despite his efforts to save space, the compositor for Q1 expanded several speech prefixes from Q0 ("Pr." for example is mostly regularized to "Prin."), and he makes sensible corrections: Hotspur's "I am whip" becomes "I am whipt," "exceedingly well, aimd" becomes "exceedingly well aimd," and "out fortunes" becomes "our fortunes." One error the compositor for Q1 did not pick up, however, is the missing speech prefix for Hotspur which should appear before "By heaven me thinks it were an easy leap" (corrected in editions after 1613). Interestingly in Q1 this line appears in the middle of a page as part of a speech given to Northumberland, but in Q0 it appears at the top of the page. As this is the first page of the fragment it is possible that the error occurred because of a faulty catchword (used by printers to check that their text followed on to the next page correctly). On the sixth page of the fragment (Ciiiv) the catchword is "Peace" rather than the speech prefix "Pr.," even though the following page starts with "Pr."; so the compositor did make this slip at least one other time.

    5In Elizabethan and Jacobean times each new press run of a book required that the individual pieces of type be set up all over again. This was tedious and often pressured work and obviously there was a great deal of room for error. Printers preferred, whenever possible, to work from an already printed copy. Henry IV, Part 1 was printed several times: including Q2 in 1599, Q3 in 1604, Q4 in 1608, Q5 in 1613, Q6 in 1622 and the First Folio (F) in 1623. Since each of the quartos was based upon the previous edition, and F shows evidence that it was set from a copy of Q5, each takes us further away from the play first handed over to Andrew Wise. Q2’s title page claims that it is "Newly corrected by W. Shake-speare" but it overlooks several obvious errors and introduces a few new ones, so it is generally agreed that its changes reflect the printing house, not the author.

    6The folio edition is a slightly different case. F removes some of the play’s profanities, reflecting changes in what was allowed to be said on stage since the "Act to Restrain Abuses of Players" of 1606, and it introduces act and scene divisions to the play. These changes may reflect the understanding that the folio editors, Shakespeare's theatre colleagues, John Heminge and Henry Condell, had of how the play had been produced on the Jacobean stage. F also adds some colloquial elision, rewrites some stage directions, substitutes the spelling "Bardolph" for Bardol(l), and persuasively addresses a few textual puzzles. Readings like F’s "President" (precedent) instead of "present" at TLN 995, and "cantle" instead of "scantle" at TLN 1628 are convincing. Editors agree that F derives from an annotated copy of Q5, but they tend to grant F more or less authority depending on their theories about what those annotations are based on. Some have argued that they draw upon a literary transcript of the company's "prompt-book" (see Wells and Taylor 329-32) but others conclude that consultation of some kind of prompt copy is unlikely because F's stage directions are too confusing (see Kastan 115). One glaring mistake in F is the inclusion of Poins in the entry directions at the beginning of 1.2. This may have happened because Falstaff's exclamation on seeing Poins at TLN 214 looks like a speech prefix in Q4 and Q5. F also replicates Q1's erroneous entry for Westmorland at the beginning of 5.1. Such errors suggest that preparation of F did not involve reference to a copy of the play that had been used in the theatre. Alice Walker has shown that F does restore several Q1 readings, so despite its errors F does reflect some effort to present an accurate edition. Its changes merit consideration case by case, but Q0 and Q1 remain the most authoritative versions of the play.

    7One other early version of the play has survived and is held in the Folger Library: the Dering manuscript of 1622. This manuscript is a conflation of Henry IV, Part 1 and Henry IV, Part 2 for private performance, and provides interesting evidence of how the play could be adapted to different playing circumstances. It is not an authoritative text but it does contain a fortuitous reading that is adopted by most editors: Falstaff’s line, "convey my trustful queen," at TLN 1351, is changed to "convey my tristful queen." "Tristful" means "sorrowful" and continues Falstaff's joke about the laughing hostess’s "trickling tears" (TLN 1349).

    8The copy for Q0

    Shakespeare’s company would have possessed just two or three handwritten copies of Henry IV, Part 1 and it seems likely that only one of them would have been handed over to the printers in 1598. The manuscripts available represented different stages in the play’s development. The author’s first version, described by editors as the "foul papers," would have reflected his first ideas for the play before it went into rehearsal. At some point a fair copy of the author’s manuscript might be made by a scribe, or by the author himself, in which early errors like inconsistent speech prefixes could be regularised. One copy of the play would be used in the theatre as a kind of promptbook (the usefulness and accuracy of this term -- and of "foul papers" -- has been disputed, see Long, Werstine). This version, called the "Book" of the play, was licensed by the Master of the Revels and is thought to have contained revisions made for performance, including more precise entrances and speech prefixes for all the players.

    9Although Q0 and Q1 present a play that is relatively easy to stage, it seems doubtful that Q0 was printed from the company’s "Book": in all likelihood, this copy would still be in use in 1598. It has also been argued that manuscripts used by the prompter needed to be accurate in specifying entrances and actions that involved stage properties, but tended to be more casual about directions that could be left up to the actors. Many of the stage directions in Henry IV, Part 1 -- most notably that in 2.2 "As they are sharing the prince and Poins set upon them. . . . They all run away, and Falstaff after a blow or two runs away too, leaving the booty behind them." (TLN 839-840) -- seem designed to help a reader/actor new to the play to visualize the action. According to Antony Hammond such directions are more likely to appear in an authorial manuscript, whether holograph or scribal copy, than a document from the theatre itself (80). Alan Dessen speculates that the atypical stage direction in 2.2 might have signalled to the actors that this stage picture was significant and potentially something to replicate when Hotspur, Glendower, Worcester and Mortimer gather round the map in 3.1.

    10If we discount a prompter's copy, the question remains as to whether a document in Shakespeare's hand or a scribal copy was given to the printer. Most recent editors support the theory that the printer used a scribal transcript. The relative lack of errors in Q0-1 would seem to indicate a very legible script and its speech-prefixes are unusually regular compared to other plays. Lines which we might expect to be colloquially elided are presented in a formal expanded form: in F,1.3, for example, Hotspur says "i’th dust," "i’th Ayre," "What de’ye call the place?" and "A plague upon’t," whereas in Q1 it’s "in the dust," "in the aire," "what do you call the place?," and "A plague upon it." This formality suggests a scribe’s hand. MacD. P. Jackson has also pointed out that all of the other "good" quarto publications of Shakespeare's plays before 1604 consistently use the spelling "pray thee," whereas Henry IV, Part 1 uses "prithee" twenty times. It is generally agreed that the other early quartos were printed from manuscripts in Shakespeare's hand, so the spelling anomaly points towards the work of a scribe.

    11The editors of the Oxford Textual Companion list thirteen points of evidence that indicate the use of a scribal copy and their case is persuasive (see Wells and Taylor 329-30). One factor which complicated the process of taking Henry IV, Part 1 from manuscript to print is the Oldcastle controversy. At some stage all occurrences of the names "Oldcastle," "Russell" and "Harvey" had to be changed. Vestiges of the previous names remain in Q1 (at TLN 155, TLN 265, and TLN 1133 - TLN 1139) but for the most part the changes were incorporated successfully. It is possible that the revisions were made upon Shakespeare's manuscript and equally plausible that they could have been entered onto an already existing scribal copy, but the task of entering around 330 changes would have been difficult to complete accurately, so perhaps the Oldcastle controversy engendered a scribal transcript prepared specifically to hand over to Peter Short's printing house. Unfortunately, at this point in time the question of what kind of dramatic manuscript served as the printer's copy for Q0 cannot be fully resolved.

    12The naming of Falstaff, Bardolph and Peto

    In 1986 the editors of the Oxford edition of Shakespeare’s Complete Works brought out the first printed version of Henry IV, Part 1 to use the names "Oldcastle," "Russell" and "Harvey" instead of "Falstaff," "Bardolph" and "Peto." This was a controversial move, but supported by strong arguments. If censorship intervened and forced Shakespeare to change the names he had first chosen, then, it was argued, it is the editor’s duty to honour his original intentions. In other instances of censorship, like the excision of Q0-1’s profanities in the Folio, editors restore the original forms without question. Why should the name, "Falstaff," be treated differently? "Oldcastle" was the name that the play’s first audience heard, and evidence suggests that this name lingered long in public memory. Its association with the historical Protestant martyr can be seen as part of the fabric of the play: a part that editors can now restore (Taylor 85-110).

    13The main objection to the restoration of these names is the fact that once the issue was settled Shakespeare continued to use the names "Falstaff," "Bardolph," and "Peto" in later plays. Whatever Shakespeare’s original intentions may have been regarding the names used in Henry IV, Part 1, one clear intention was to use the same names for the same figures in Henry IV, Part 1, Henry IV, Part 2, Henry V, and The Merry Wives of Windsor. Those who support the restoration remind us that Henry IV, Part 1 was first performed as a separate play and should be regarded as such, but it is also part of a wider story, in which characters gather associations, experiences and attributes which carry over from one play to another. As David Bevington argues in the 1987 single-volume Oxford edition of the play, changing the name "Falstaff" back to "Oldcastle" creates the very anomaly that Shakespeare and his early editors avoided. We know nothing about Shakespeare’s feelings with regard to the Oldcastle controversy: whether he changed his text willingly in response to adverse audience reaction or reluctantly in response to censorship. In the face of such uncertainty it seems logical to respect the decisions recorded in Q0, and retain the names Falstaff, Bardolph and Peto.

    14The modern spelling text

    This modern-spelling edition has been prepared in accordance with the General Guidelines for the Internet Shakespeare Editions which, in turn, are based on those prepared for the Revels Plays by David Bevington, and on Wells, Re-Editing Shakespeare for the Modern Reader. In keeping with the ISE Guidelines this text uses standard modern U.S. English spellings. The copy-text for this edition is Q1, apart from TLN 525 to TLN 847 where prior authority is given to Q0. Readings from F have been adopted in cases where they clearly make more sense than what has been printed in Q0-1 (including the colloquial elisions discussed above). This text uses the act and scene divisions provided in F, but follows the established practice in modern editions of adding a scene division (5.3) at TLN 2889. Stage directions from Q0-1 are reproduced in italics with added material placed in square brackets. Speech prefixes have been regularised throughout and preference has been given to familiar forms of names for people and places. The punctuation in Q0 and Q1 has been modernized wherever necessary to clarify meaning.

    15The editing process inevitably entails choices and compromise. This is particularly so with regard to lineation in a play like Henry IV, Part 1 which contains around 45% prose and 55% verse. Decisions about verse and prose for this edition have been influenced by factors like character and dramatic situation as well as meter. Hotspur's lines at the beginning of 3.1, for example, "Lord Mortimer and cousin Glendower, will you sit down? And uncle Worcester -- a plague upon it, I have forgot the map!" (TLN 1524-1527), are rendered in prose in this edition, while the surrounding speeches are in verse, because this seems appropriate for Hotspur who is agitated and out of step with his companions. In Q1 the lines are presented as prose, but so too are the metrically regular lines which follow from Glendower, whereas in F Hotspur's speech is set out as irregular verse. The most recent Oxford, Cambridge, and Arden editions all find different solutions for these lines, with only Kastan's Arden edition using the lineation adopted here. This diversity is indicative of the fact that Shakespeare editing is not an exact science. Instead, like actors and directors, Shakespeare editors are granted an intriguing range of possibilities.

    16Works Cited

    1. Bevington, David, ed. Henry IV, Part I. The Oxford Shakespeare. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1987.
    2. 17Dessen, Alan C. "The Elizabethan-Jacobean Script-to-Stage Process: The Playwright, Theatrical Intentions, and Collaboration." Style 44:3 (2010): 391-403.
    3. 18Hammond, Antony. "Encounters of the Third Kind in Stage-Directions in Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama." Studies in Philology 89:1 (1992): 71-99.
    4. 19Hinman, Charlton and W. W. Greg, eds. Henry the Fourth Part I, 1598: Shakespeare Quarto Facsimiles No 14. Oxford: Clarendon, 1966.
    5. 20Jackson, MacD. P. "The Manuscript Copy of the Quarto (1598) of Shakespeare's 1 Henry IV." Notes and Queries 7:33 (1986): 353-54.
    6. 21Kastan, David Scott, ed. King Henry IV Part 1. The Arden Shakespeare. London: Thomson Learning, 2002.
    7. 22Long, William B. "Stage Directions: a Misinterpreted Factor in Determining Textual Provenance." TEXT 2 (1985): 121-37.
    8. 23Taylor, Gary. "The Fortunes of Oldcastle." Shakespeare Survey 38 (1985): 85-100.
    9. 24Walker, Alice. "The Folio Text of 1 Henry IV." Studies in Bibliography 6 (1954): 45-59.
    10. 25Wells, Stanley. Re-Editing Shakespeare for the Modern Reader. Oxford: Clarendon, 1984.
    11. 26Wells, Stanley and Gary Taylor, with John Jowett and William Montgomery. William Shakespeare: A Textual Companion. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1987.
    12. 27Werstine, Paul. "Post-Theory Problems in Shakespeare Editing." Yearbook of English Studies (1999):103-17.
    13. 28Zimmerman, Susan. "The Uses of Headlines: Peter Short's Shakespearian Quartos 1 Henry IV and Richard III. The Library 6:7 (1985): 218-55.