The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmarke

Hamlet was entered on the Stationers’ Register in 1602, but its first appearance in print was unauthorized. A version of the play was published in 1603, ‘As it hath beene diuerse times acted by his Highnesse seruants in the Cittie of London: as also in the two Vniuersities of Cambridge and Oxford, and else-where.’ Known as the ‘bad quarto’, it is much shorter than later texts, and may have been put together from memory by actors. The second quarto, published in 1604/5, is ‘enlarged to almost as much againe as it was, according to the true and perfect Coppie’. The authoritative ‘Coppie’ was perhaps Shakespeare’s manuscript, but the book is very poorly printed. The third quarto was published in 1611, and is based on the second quarto. This copy was previously owned by Richard Heber, a legendary nineteenth-century bibliophile famous for buying up entire libraries.