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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Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a writer and poet living in Tucson, Arizona. His poetry has been published in Impossible Archetype and is forthcoming from The Laurel Review. A piece of flash fiction is forthcoming from Cold Creek Review. His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published online at Tiny Donkey and Fairy Tale Review’s “Fairy-Tale Files.” Richard is also Downlink Lead for HiRISE at the University of Arizona.