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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: August 2010
  • First published in: 1888

KING JOHN

Summary

INTRODUCTION

LITERARY HISTORY

This play was first printed in the Folio of 1623. No Quarto edition is extant, nor is there any trace of the existence of any separate edition during the seventeenth century. It is the only undoubted play of Shakespeare's not entered on the Register of Stationers’ Hall. The chief source to which Shakespeare was indebted for his materials seems to have been an old play on the same subject, in two parts, the title-page being as follows:

The | Troublesome Raigne | of John King of England, with the dis- | couerie of King Richard Cordelions | Base sonne (vulgarly named, The Ba- | stard Fawconbridge): also the death of King John at Swinstead | Abbey. | As it was (sundry times) publikely acted by the | Queenes Maiesties Players, in the ho- | nourable Citie of | London. | Imprinted at London for Sampson Clarke, | and are to be solde at his shop, on the backe- | side of the Royall Exchange. | 1591. |

This play was reprinted in 1611 for another bookseller, who “inserted the letters W. Sh. in the title-page; and in order to conceal his fraud, omitted the words—publikelyin the honourable Cittie of London, which he was aware would proclaim this play not to be Shakespeare's King John; the company to which he belonged, having no publick theatre in London: that in Blackfriars being a private playhouse; and the Globe, which was a publick theatre, being situated in Southwark.”

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