Q1 Hamlet (1603) routinely sets prose speeches so that they appear to be blank verse. This article argues that such was an attempt to confer prestige upon the text, particularly in the wake of the saturation of Shakespeare books on the literary marketplace around 1600 – a phenomenon that saw his prose works achieve less favour than those in pentameter. The publishers of Q1 Merry Wives (1602) and Q1 Hamlet may have hedged their bets on these Shakespeare texts by amplifying their verse, long the gold standard of the Shakespearean brand. Like The True Tragedie of Richard III (published 1594) and The Famous Victories of Henry V (entered 1594), which presented their opening pages to readers as iambic pentameter, Q1 Hamlet seems to have beautified its dialogue for readers in the early modern book marketplace.
The Sequence of Creation and Implications for the 'Allowed Booke’
Charles Adams Kelly and Dayna Leigh Plehn
The case for Q1 Hamlet as a pre-Q2 text is coming into focus as the findings of several scholars are reconciled. Additionally, a finding related to the Brudermord text has helped mark that text as a predecessor to both Q1 and Q2/F, with further implications for Q1 as a pre-Q2 text. As this view of Q1 becomes accepted, patterns of Q1 vs. Q2 variance advance the case for Q1 as being the author’s draft of the text that became the censor-approved ‘allowed book’. There is no way to know how most of the Q1 vs. Q2 textual variants progressed from Q1 as printed, to the non-extant allowed book from which the players’ parts were copied, and finally to Q2. However, the 577 Q1 lines that are identifiably concordant but variant to lines in Q2 represent a category of Q1 lines that will be of interest to those planning to edit or stage Q1 Hamlet.
Study of the Q1 Hamlet (1603) has been characterised by analysis of its degree of similarity to the Q2 and Folio versions. Detailed consideration of the unique lines in Q1 – that is, lines for which there is no analogue in Q2 or F – has been ignored, with discussion of Q1 focusing instead on whether it ‘cuts’ or ‘remembers’ any lines from Q2 or F. This article demonstrates the consistent presence of a key image – the heart – in association with the character of Corambis in unique Q1 lines. This consistency means that whichever model of transmission one accepts, some account is needed of the prospect that unique lines were either cut or added systematically in conjunction with the change of name of the King’s counsellor.
Graham Holderness and Bryan Loughrey
While the articles in this volume are focussed on new research in Hamlet studies, this editorial ‘Afterword’ reverts to an earlier stage of the debate around Q1, specifically the ‘culture wars’ of the 1990s, and re-examines the controversy surrounding the publication of the Shakespearean Originals series, which was launched with a new edition of Hamlet First Quarto (1992). Shakespearean Originals sought to situate texts within the historical conditions of textual production by decomposing conflated modern editions into the various discrete, and to some degree incommensurable, textualisations that were produced by historical contingency in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. A general recovery of such textualisations, as they existed before their colonisation by the modern edition, was at that point in time clearly a priority. Although the series was prompted by ascendant currents in critical theory, the academy was not ready for this particular editorial initiative.
Why Q1 Hamlet Matters
This introduction situates the special double issue ‘Canonizing Q1 Hamlet’ in the context of the early publication history of Shakespeare’s tragedy and the recent critical and editorial interest in the first edition. The first edition of Hamlet – often called ‘Q1’, shorthand for ‘first quarto’ – was published in 1603, in what we might regard as the early modern equivalent of a cheap paperback. Q1 Hamlet is becoming increasingly canonical not because there is universal agreement about what it is or what it means, but because more and more Shakespearians agree that it is worth arguing about. If we read or perform it, rather than simply dismissing it (as was done for most of the twentieth century), Q1 makes us think: about performance, book history, Shakespeare’s relationships with his contemporaries, and the shape of his whole career.
John V. Nance
Of the fifteen verbal links Wiggins associates with Q1 Hamlet in his catalogue of British Drama, the inclusion of Dido, Queen of Carthage is potentially the most problematic in terms of establishing a 1588–1589 date for the play. This article re-examines the editorial and critical history of the most commonly cited overlap between these two plays – the entirety of ‘Aeneas’s tale to Dido’ – and it provides new evidence that challenges their continued association.
Hamlet as a Material Object
This article challenges A.W. Pollard’s foundational distinction between good and bad quartos, which confuses ethical and bibliographical categories. Some quartos are badly inked, or printed on poor-quality paper. But Q1 Hamlet is a professional, well-made commodity. Zachary Lesser has conjectured that Q1 sold poorly, and has claimed that the similarity of the title pages of Q1 and Q2 supports that hypothesis. But both title pages are typical of Ling’s books, and their similarities are no more remarkable than those in Ling’s different quartos of Michael Drayton’s poems. Q1 Hamlet apparently sold more quickly than Q2. Using D.W. Winnicott’s theories about the ‘good enough mother’ and ‘transitional objects’, we can identify Q1 as a ‘good enough quarto’.
This article proposes that Q1 Hamlet is best understood as an early Gothic tragedy. It connects Catherine Belsey’s work on Shakespeare’s indebtedness to ‘old wives’ tales’ and ‘winter’s tales’ about ghosts with Terri Bourus’s evidence of Q1’s connections to Stratford-upon-Avon, the 1580s, and the beginnings of Shakespeare’s London career. It conducts a systematic lexical investigation of Q1’s Scene 14 (not present in Q2 or F), showing that the scene’s language is indisputably Shakespearian. It connects the dramaturgy of Q1 to the dramaturgy of Titus Andronicus, particularly in terms of issues about the staging of violence, previously explored by Stanley Wells. It also shows that Titus and Q1 Hamlet share an unusual interest in the barbarity and vengefulness of Gothic Europe (including Denmark and Norway).
Telescoped Action and Characters in Q1 and Q2 Hamlet
The first quarto of Hamlet offers a fundamentally distinct play from the versions contained in the second quarto and in the First Folio. Taking Q1 as an autonomous, finished text, and assuming that Q2 and F were not only printed but also written later, this article sets out to explore Shakespeare’s conception of key characters in this first version, how it took shape, and how and why his approach changed in subsequent revisions. In particular, I will concentrate on the characterisation of both female and male characters as they appear in Q1 and Q2, trying to underline the different poses towards which they gesture and putting them against the backdrop of a narrative frame whose speed, in the case of Q1 Hamlet, seems continually to increase.
The Authorship and Date of the First Quarto of Hamlet
Ever since the discovery of the first quarto of Hamlet (Q1) in 1823, it has generated fierce debate among scholars about its origin. Recently, Terri Bourus has written a powerful book-length argument that Q1 was indeed by Shakespeare, as its title page states, and that he wrote it by 1589. The present article bolsters Bourus’s conclusion with a careful look at its title page claims as well as the literary satires of Thomas Nashe, Gabriel Harvey and Ben Jonson. Specifically, Q1’s title page and apparent allusions to Hamlet in the early 1590s pamphlet war of Nashe and Harvey independently confirm an earlier chronology for the tragedy. Jonson also attributes a line exclusive to Q1 to his caricature of Shakespeare in Every Man Out of His Humor (1600). The evidence suggests Shakespeare had written Q1 much earlier than conventionally assumed and that there was no ‘lost Hamlet’.