Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: Rosemary Gaby
Peer Reviewed

Textual Introduction

The copy for Q0

Shakespeare始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始s development. The author始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始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.

Although Q0 and Q1 present a play that is relatively easy to stage, it seems doubtful that Q0 was printed from the company始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始th dust," "i始th Ayre," "What de始ye call the place?" and "A plague upon始t," whereas in Q1 it始s "in the dust," "in the aire," "what do you call the place?," and "A plague upon it." This formality suggests a scribe始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.

The 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.