Published online by Cambridge University Press: 29 August 2010
On the 26th of July, 1602, a memorandum was entered on the registers of the Stationers' Company,—
“James Roberts.] A booke, The Revenge of Hamlett prince of Denmarke, as yt was latelie acted by the Lord Chamberlayn his servantes.”
This entry unquestionably refers to our author's “Hamlet,” the publication of which Roberts desired to secure. As, however, an edition of the play appeared in the following year, “printed for N. L. and John Trundell,” Mr. Collier conjectures that Roberts was unable to obtain such a copy of the piece as he could creditably associate his name with, but that some inferior and nameless printer, not so scrupulous, contrived to possess himself of an imperfect manuscript of it, and brought out the edition of 1603. Of this impression, one copy of which is in the library of the Duke of Devonshire, and another recently discovered has been purchased for the British Museum, the title is, “The Tragicall Historie of Hamlet Prince of Denmarke. By William Shake-speare. As it hath beene diverse times acted by his Highnesse servants in the Cittie of London: as also in the two Universities of Cambridge and Oxford, and else-where. At London printed for N. L. and John Trundell, 1603.”
But, as Mr. Dyce observes, we have no proof that Roberts was not the “nameless printer” of the quarto of 1603: on the contrary, there is reason to suspect that he was, since we find that he printed the quarto of 1604 for the same Nicholas Ling who was one of the publishers of the quarto of 1603.