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The First Part of King Henry IV


  • 12 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 251 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.41 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521687430)

The First Part of King Henry IV
Cambridge University Press
9780521868013 - The First Part of King Henry IV - Edited by Herbert WeilJudith Weil

The New Cambridge Shakespeare

General editor

Brian Gibbons
University of Münster

Associate General Editor

A. R. Braunmuller
University of California, Los Angeles

From the publication of the first volumes in 1984 the General Editor of the New Cambridge Shakespeare was Philip Brockbank and the Associate General Editors were Brian Gibbons and Robin Hood. From 1990 to 1994 the General Editor was Brian Gibbons and the Associate General Editors were A. R. Braunmuller and Robin Hood.

The First Part of King Henry IV

This updated edition offers a strongly theatrical perspective on the origins of Shakespeare’s The First Part of King Henry IV and the history of its interpretation. The introduction clarifies the play’s surprising, de-centred dramatic structure, questioning the dominant assumption that the drama focuses on the education of Prince Hal. It calls attention to the effects of civil war upon a broad range of relationships. Falstaff’s unpredictable vitality is explored, together with important contemporary values of honour, friendship, festivity and reformation.

Extensive lexical glosses of obscure, ambiguous or archaic meanings make the rich wordplay accessible. The notes also provide a thorough commentary on Shakespeare’s transformation of his sources (particularly Holinshed’s Chronicles) and suggest alternative stagings. This updated edition contains a new introductory section by Katharine A. Craik, which describes recent stage, film and critical interpretations, and an updated reading list.

The New Cambridge Shakespeare

All’s Well That Ends Well, edited by Russell Fraser

Antony and Cleopatra, edited by David Bevington

As You Like It, edited by Michael Hattaway

The Comedy of Errors, edited by T. S. Dorsch

Coriolanus, edited by Lee Bliss

Cymbeline, edited by Martin Butler

Hamlet, edited by Philip Edwards

Julius Caesar, edited by Marvin Spevack

King Edward III, edited by Giorgio Melchiori

The First Part of King Henry IV, edited by Herbert Weil and Judith Weil

The Second Part of King Henry IV, edited by Giorgio Melchiori

King Henry V, edited by Andrew Gurr

The First Part of King Henry VI, edited by Michael Hattaway

The Second Part of King Henry VI, edited by Michael Hattaway

The Third Part of King Henry VI, edited by Michael Hattaway

King Henry VIII, edited by John Margeson

King John, edited by L. A. Beaurline

The Tragedy of King Lear, edited by Jay L. Halio

King Richard II, edited by Andrew Gurr

King Richard III, edited by Janis Lull

Macbeth, edited by A. R. Braunmuller

Measure for Measure, edited by Brian Gibbons

The Merchant of Venice, edited by M. M. Mahood

The Merry Wives of Windsor, edited by David Crane

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, edited by R. A. Foakes

Much Ado About Nothing, edited by F. H. Mares

Othello, edited by Norman Sanders

Pericles, edited by Doreen DelVecchio and Antony Hammond

The Poems, edited by John Roe

Romeo and Juliet, edited by G. Blakemore Evans

The Sonnets, edited by G. Blakemore Evans

The Taming of the Shrew, edited by Ann Thompson

The Tempest, edited by David Lindley

Timon of Athens, edited by Karl Klein

Titus Andronicus, edited by Alan Hughes

Troilus and Cressida, edited by Anthony B. Dawson

Twelfth Night, edited by Elizabeth Story Donno

The Two Gentlemen of Verona, edited by Kurt Schlueter

The Winter's Tale, edited by Susan Snyder and Deborah T. Curren-Aquino

The Early Quartos

The First Quarto of Hamlet, edited by Kathleen O. Irace

The First Quarto of King Henry V, edited by Andrew Gurr

The First Quarto of King Lear, edited by Jay L. Halio

The First Quarto of King Richard III, edited by Peter Davison

The First Quarto of Othello, edited by Scott McMillin

The Taming of a Shrew: The 1524 Quarto, edited by Stephen Roy Miller

The First Quarto of Romeo and Juliet, edited by Lukas Erne

The First Part of King Henry IV

Updated edition

Edited by

Herbert Weil

Emeritus Professor of English, University of Manitoba

Edited by

Judith Weil

Emeritus Professor of English, University of Manitoba

Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo, Delhi

Cambridge University Press
The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 8RU, UK

Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York
Information on this title:

© Cambridge University Press 1997, 2007

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 1997
Updated edition 2007
Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge

A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library

ISBN 978-0-521-86801-3 Hardback
ISBN 978-0-521-68743-0 Paperback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.


List of illustrations
List of abbreviations and conventions
The design of the play
Transforming the sources
The appeal of Falstaff and the contexts of interpretation
Stage history
Recent stage, film and critical interpretations, by Katharine A. Craik
Note on the text
List of characters
The Play
Textual analysis
Appendix: Shakespeare and Holinshed
Reading list


1             ‘What trick, what device . . . canst thou now find out?’ Act 2, Scene 4. Michael Pennington as the Prince and John Woodvine as Falstaff in Michael Bogdanov’s touring production, 1986
2             A reconstruction of the Prince’s soliloquy (1.2.155) in an Elizabethan playhouse. Drawing by C. Walter Hodges
3             Two battle scenes from Act 5, Scene 4: a The Prince saves the King from Douglas in the production directed by Michael Bogdanov, 1986 b A reconstruction of the combat between Prince Hal and Hotspur on an Elizabethan stage. Drawing by C. Walter Hodges
4             A non-theatrical version of the robbery, Act 2, Scene 2: Falstaff, a ‘huge hill of flesh’, nimbly runs away. Etching by George Cruikshank, 1858
5             A typical publicity photograph: Prince Hal (Richard Burton) and Poins taunt Falstaff (Anthony Quayle) in Quayle’s 1951 production
6             King Henry (Patrick Stewart) steps from a procession to speak the first lines in the Royal Shakespeare Company production which opened the Barbican Theatre, London in 1982
7             Two versions of the ‘play extempore’ in Act 2, Scene 4: a Alan Howard, as the Prince, playing the King in Terry Hands’ Royal Shakespeare Company production, 1975 b John Woodvine, as Falstaff, playing the King in Michael Bogdanov’s production, 1986
8             Robert Stephens, as Falstaff, and Michael Maloney, as Prince Hal, in Adrian Noble’s Royal Shakespeare Company production, 1991
9             Henry IV (David Troughton) battles with crown and conscience in Michael Attenborough’s 2000 Royal Shakespeare Company production of Henry IV Part 1 at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon. Photo by Malcolm Davies
10            Hal (Matthew Macfadyen) and Falstaff (Michael Gambon) in Act 1 Scene 2 of Nicholas Hytner’s 2005 National Theatre production in London. Photo by Catherine Ashmore


This edition owes a special debt to a pair of scholars no longer here to read it: Philip Brockbank who followed his initial invitation with continuing encouragement and Richard David who criticised an earlier draft in the kindest possible light. Giorgio Melchiori shared many questions and concerns while he was editing 2 Henry IV. With his learning and patience, Brian Gibbons has been responsible for improvements on almost every page. At Cambridge University Press, Sarah Stanton has astutely smoothed many ways over many years; Paul Chipchase and Margaret Berrill have provided expert advice. C. Walter Hodges at a very early stage vividly illustrated our inchoate suggestions. A. R. Humphreys and David Bevington, editors of the Arden and Oxford editions of 1 Henry IV, helpfully answered our queries.

Among the many friends and colleagues who have listened, argued, criticised drafts, or sent us their own work in progress, we wish especially to thank Scott McMillin, Miriam Gilbert, Edward Pechter, Ernst Honigmann, Patrick Boyde, George Hunter, Barbara Hodgdon, Victor Cowie, Kenneth Muir, George Toles, Tom Roberts, Patricia Tatspaugh, and Inga-Stina Ewbank. At the Shakespeare Centre in Stratford-upon-Avon, Marian Pringle, Sylvia Morris, and Mary White gave invaluable help with illustrations and production records; the staff of the Cambridge English Faculty Library, too, has been exceptionally generous. We are also grateful to the staffs of the University of Manitoba Library, the Cambridge University Library, the Folger Library, and the Huntington Library. Lucia Flynn has often saved us with her skills at the computer. For financial support and research leaves, we are indebted to the University of Manitoba Faculty of Arts, the University of Manitoba Institute for the Humanities, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Clare Hall and Robinson College, Cambridge, helped us work in a stimulating environment.

We would also like to express our gratitude to the larger communities of critics, scholars, and directors who keep testing the value of Shakespeare’s plays. Many of them have, in effect, questioned a widespread assumption that 1 Henry IV presents an inclusive picture of society. But relative absences – particularly those of women, or of middle- and lower-class characters – may figure as important presences. By identifying such presences in small roles or in the transforming energies of language and action, we have tried to indicate some of the newer ways in which 1 Henry IV continues to challenge its audience. Finally, we acknowledge that any errors or misguided opinions which remain here are our own.

We dedicate this edition to our son and daughter, Fred and Leslie Weil, who have grown up in the company of Shakespeare and Shakespeareans, bearing our arguments and adventures with lively humour and grace.

List of abbreviations and conventions

Shakespeare’s plays, when cited in this edition, are abbreviated in a style modified slightly from that used in the Harvard Concordance to Shakespeare. Other editions of Shakespeare are abbreviated under the editor’s surname (Theobald, Duthie) unless they are the work of more than one editor. In such cases, an abbreviated series title is used (Cam.). When more than one edition by the same editor is cited, later editions are discriminated with a raised figure (Rowe3). All quotations from Shakespeare, except those from 1 Henry IV, use the text and lineation of The Riverside Shakespeare, under the general editorship of G. Blakemore Evans.1. Shakespeare’s plays

Much Ado About Nothing


Antony and Cleopatra


All’s Well That Ends Well


As You Like It






The Comedy of Errors




The First Part of King Henry the Fourth


The Second Part of King Henry the Fourth


King Henry the Fifth


The First Part of King Henry the Sixth


The Second Part of King Henry the Sixth


The Third Part of King Henry the Sixth


King Henry the Eighth


Julius Caesar


King John


King Lear


Love’s Labour’s Lost




Measure for Measure


A Midsummer Night’s Dream


The Merchant of Venice






King Richard the Second


King Richard the Third


Romeo and Juliet


The Taming of the Shrew


Sir Thomas More


The Tempest


The Two Gentlemen of Verona


Timon of Athens

2. Other works cited and general references
Biblical quotations are from the Geneva edition, 1560, unless otherwise noted.

© Cambridge University Press
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