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The earliest texts of William Shakespeare's works were published during the 16th and 17th centuries in quarto or folio format. Folios are large, tall volumes; quartos are smaller, roughly half the size. The publications of the latter are usually abbreviated to Q1, Q2, etc., where the letter stands for "quarto" and the number for the first, second, or third edition published.

Eighteen of the 36 plays in the First Folio were printed in separate and individual editions prior to 1623. Pericles (1609) and The Two Noble Kinsmen (1634) also appeared separately before their inclusions in folio collections (the Shakespeare Third Folio and the second Beaumont and Fletcher folio, respectively). All of these were quarto editions, with two exceptions: The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of York, the first edition of Henry VI, Part 3, was printed in octavo form in 1595, as was the 1611 edition of The most lamentable tragedy of Titus Andronicus.[1] In chronological order, these publications were:

Six of the preceding were classified as "bad quartos" by Alfred W. Pollard and other scholars associated with the New Bibliography. Popular plays like 1 Henry IV and Pericles were reprinted in their quarto editions even after the First Folio appeared, sometimes more than once.

Poetry

Shakespeare's poems were also printed in quarto or octavo form:

Differing from the quartos of the plays, the first editions of Shakespeare's narrative poems are extremely well printed. "Richard Field, Shakespeare's first publisher and printer, was a Stratford man, probably a friend of Shakespeare, and the two produced an excellent text."[2] Shakespeare may have had direct involvement in the publication of the two poems, as Ben Jonson exercised in reference to the publication of his works, but as Shakespeare clearly did not do in connection with his plays.[citati

Eighteen of the 36 plays in the First Folio were printed in separate and individual editions prior to 1623. Pericles (1609) and The Two Noble Kinsmen (1634) also appeared separately before their inclusions in folio collections (the Shakespeare Third Folio and the second Beaumont and Fletcher folio, respectively). All of these were quarto editions, with two exceptions: The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of York, the first edition of Henry VI, Part 3, was printed in octavo form in 1595, as was the 1611 edition of The most lamentable tragedy of Titus Andronicus.[1] In chronological order, these publications were:

  • Titus Andronicus, 1594, 1600, 1611 (octavo)
  • Henry VI, Part 2, 1594, 1600, 1619
  • Henry VI, Part 3, 1595 (octavo), 1600, 1619
  • Edward III, 1596
  • Romeo and Juliet, 1597, 1599, 1609
  • Richard II, 1597, 1598, 1608, 1615
  • Richard III, 1597, 1598, 1602, 1605, 1612, 1622
  • Love's Labour's Lost, 1598
  • Henry IV, Part 1, 1598, 1599, 1604, 1608, 1613, 1622
  • Henry IV, Part 2, 1600
  • Henry V, 1600, 1602, 1619
  • The Merchant of Venice, 1600, 1619
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1600, 1619
  • Much Ado About Nothing, 1600
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor, 1602, 1619
  • Hamlet, 1603, 1604, 1

    Six of the preceding were classified as "bad quartos" by Alfred W. Pollard and other scholars associated with the New Bibliography. Popular plays like 1 Henry IV and Pericles were reprinted in their quarto editions even after the First Folio appeared, sometimes more than once.

    Poetry

    Shakespeare's poems were also printed in quarto or octavo form:

    Differing from the quartos of the plays, the first editions of Shakespeare's narrative poems are extremely well printed. "Richard Field, Shakespeare's first publisher and printer, was a Stratford man, probably a friend of Shakespeare, and the two produced an excellent text."[2] Shakespeare may have had direct involvement in the publication of the two poems, as Ben Jonson exercised in reference to the publication of his works, but as Shakespeare clearly did not do in connection with his plays.[citation needed]

    John Benson published a collected edition of Shakespeare's Poems in 1640; the poems were not added to collections of the plays until the 18th

    Shakespeare's poems were also printed in quarto or octavo form:

    • Venus and Adonis, Q1—1593, Q2—1594 (with later editions in octavo);
    • The Rape of Lucrece, Q—1594 (with later edition

      Differing from the quartos of the plays, the first editions of Shakespeare's narrative poems are extremely well printed. "Richard Field, Shakespeare's first publisher and printer, was a Stratford man, probably a friend of Shakespeare, and the two produced an excellent text."[2] Shakespeare may have had direct involvement in the publication of the two poems, as Ben Jonson exercised in reference to the publication of his works, but as Shakespeare clearly did not do in connection with his plays.[citation needed]

      John Benson published a collected edition of Shakespeare's Poems in 1640; the poems were not added to collections of the plays until the 18th century. (The disputed miscellany The Passionate Pilgrim was only printed in octavo: twice in 1599, with another in 1612, all by William Jaggard.)[3]

      Folios