The First Quarto of King Richard III

Shakespeare’s Richard III presents difficult textual problems. There are 2,000 verbal differences between the text of the first quarto (1597) and the version in the First Folio (1623). Although the narrative of the two plays is virtually identical, each has lines which are not found in the other, parts of the play are arranged differently, and the quarto deploys fewer characters. The text of the quarto is accompanied by a collation of variant readings and substantial textual notes. In a lengthy introduction Peter Davison proposes that Shakespeare’s company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, used a memorially reconstructed text of Richard III during a touring performance of the play, and that text provided the manuscript for the 1597 quarto. Using examples of touring practice of the past 400 years, Davison shows how the actors’ involvement helped to produce the text we have.

• An alternative approach to solving complex textual problems in Shakespeare’s plays • Examines the practice of touring in the 1590s: costs, travel, audience, patronage • The editor was President of the Bibliographical Society, 1992–1994, editor of its journal The Library, and editor of The Book Encompassed (Cambridge University Press, 1994)


List of figures; Preface; Abbreviations and conventions; Introduction; Characters in order of appearance; The play; Textual notes.


‘Peter Davison’s edition of Richard III’s first quarto is outstanding and important; it is brightly committed, packed with fresh data, and even amusing … I think this edition, especially for its close, exact data on acting tours, will regard anyone concerned with the Tudor stage … Altogether this is an exuberant, scholarly, usually compelling, and ground-breaking edition of one of the most intriguing of the Spakespeare quartos.’ Notes and Queries