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

    Textual Introduction

    The 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.