Hamlet in 1603, 1605, 1611, 1622, and 1637

The British Library has recently digitized 93 pamphlet editions of Shakespeare’s plays that were printed during his lifetime and a few decades after. His manuscripts no longer exist but these quartos are the closest record of his original work, and there are variations that make comparison between editions interesting. For example, according to Professor Ann Thompson of the King’s College London, the 1603 quarto of Hamlet is considered to be “bad” due to its shorter length and errors, but some productions value its brevity and accessible language. The 1605 quarto and an edition from 1623 are used together for the most complete version of the play. The digitized quarto are available for free viewing on the British Library’s website.

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