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Richard II
1608
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Arch.G d.43 (1), title page

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Arch.G d.43 (1), title page
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The Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, has graciously contributed images of materials in its collections to Shakespeare Documented under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence.  Images used within the scope of these terms should cite the Bodleian Libraries as the source.  For any use outside the scope of these terms, visitors should contact Bodleian Libraries Imaging Services at imaging@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

Copy-specific information
Creator: William Shakespeare
Title: The tragedie of King Richard the second, with new additions of the parliament sceane, and the deposing of king Richard, as it hath been lately acted by the kinges maiesties seruantes, at the Globe.
Date: Lond. W.W. for M. Law, 1608
Repository: Bodleian Library, Oxford University, Oxford, UK
Call number and opening: Arch.G d.43 (1), title page
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Item Creator
William Shakespeare
Item Title
The tragedie of King Richard the second, with new additions of the parliament sceane, and the deposing of king Richard, as it hath been lately acted by the kinges maiesties seruantes, at the Globe.
Item Date
Lond. W.W. for M. Law 1608
Repository
Bodleian Library, Oxford University, Oxford, UK
Call Number
Arch.G d.43 (1), title page

Institution Rights and Document Citation

Terms of use
The Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, has graciously contributed images of materials in its collections to Shakespeare Documented under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence.  Images used within the scope of these terms should cite the Bodleian Libraries as the source.  For any use outside the scope of these terms, visitors should contact Bodleian Libraries Imaging Services at imaging@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

Copy-specific information
Creator: William Shakespeare
Title: The tragedie of King Richard the second, with new additions of the parliament sceane, and the deposing of king Richard, as it hath been lately acted by the kinges maiesties seruantes, at the Globe.
Date: Lond. W.W. for M. Law, 1608
Repository: Bodleian Library, Oxford University, Oxford, UK
Call number and opening: Arch.G d.43 (1), title page
View online bibliographic record

At some point in 1608, Mathew Law re-published Richard II, including a new title page. Law initially printed the fourth edition in 1608 with a title page repeating information from the title page of the third edition, about the play’s performance by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men.

In reissuing the play with a new title page, Law sought to advertise the edition’s “new additions of the Parliament sceane, and the deposing of King Richard.” He also updated the description of the play’s performance: “As it hath lately been acted by the Kinges Majesties servants, at the Globe.” It was not uncommon for publishers to advertise additions or revisions made to one of Shakespeare’s plays in print. Alan Farmer notes that between 1598 and 1609, book publishers brought out ten editions of six Shakespeare plays with title-page advertisements of corrected or enlarged texts -- Love’s Labor’s Lost (1598), Henry IV Part 1 (1599), Romeo and Juliet (1599), Richard III (1602), Hamlet (1604), and this edition of Richard II.

Although the “deposition scene” found in both versions of the fourth edition is a bit shorter than the same scene found in the 1623 First Folio, it is the first edition to include this scene.

The “deposition scene” itself has been at the center of much critical debate and speculation. Due to the controversial content of this scene, many scholars have argued that its absence from the first three quartos suggests that the play was originally performed with this scene, but that the play was then censored in print. Another possibility is that the later addition of this scene reflects revisions to the play authored by Shakespeare. Since the title page of this edition advertises both textual additions and new performance information, later editions of Richard II may have been based on a version of the play performed during its revival at the Globe early in the reign of King James I.     

The copy  shown above is one of two listed in the English Short Title Catalogue, and was completely digitized as part of the British Library’s Shakespeare in Quarto project. It was once owned by the literary scholar and biographer Edmond Malone and gifted to the Bodleian Library following his death in 1812.

To learn more about this play, see the Folger Shakespeare Library’s page on Richard II, and the British Library’s Shakespeare in Quarto.

Written by Manuel Jacquez

Sources

Alan Farmer. “Shakespeare as Leading Playwright in Print, 1598-1608/9.” Shakespeare and Textual Studies. Eds. Margaret Jane Kidnie and Sonia Massai. Cambridge UP, 2015. 87-103.

Charles R. Forker, ed., King Richard II (London: Arden Shakespeare, 2002).

Cyndia Susan Clegg, “‘By the choise and inuitation of al the realme’: Richard II and Elizabethan Press Censorship,” Shakespeare Quarterly 48 (1997), 432-48.

DEEP: Database of Early English Playbooks. Ed. Alan B. Farmer and Zachary Lesser. Created 2007. <deep.sas.upenn.edu>.

English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC). British Library. <estc.bl.uk>

Shakespeare in Quarto. “Richard II, Fourth Quarto variant, 1608.” Accessed February 1, 2017.  <bl.uk/treasures/shakespeare/richard2bibs.html#fourthvar>

Last updated February 23, 2017