The First Quarto of The Merry Wives of Windsor is the most fascinatingly problematic of all the early Shakespearean texts. Was it an authorial first draft? Or a cut-down version of the better-known Folio text designed for acting? Or a text put together from faulty actors' memories? Or a reported text assembled by notetakers from attendance at the theatre? None of these theories, though advanced and interrogated for the last 250 years, is totally convincing. The Introduction to this edition explores the various attempts to make sense of the short version of the play, demonstrating the ways in which preferences for one theory or another reflect the changes in editorial theory and fashion over the centuries. The modernised text and its commentary enable the reader to enter into this ongoing and endlessly intriguing debate.