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Hamlet through the Years

William Shakespeare wrote Hamlet around 1600.  As far as we know, Hamlet was the twenty-second of his thirty-seven plays, the last of which was first performed in 1612.  With 30,557 words, Hamlet is his longest play.  Compare that to Romeo and Juliet (24,545 words) or Macbeth (17,121)!


Shakespeare originally intended his plays for the stage, and so his works were collected by others for publication.  The first two acknowledged collections, the first quarto (c. 1602) and second quarto (c. 1605) were compiled during his lifetime, but most likely without his help.  The third and arguably most accurate and complete collection of his work was published in 1623, seven years after his death. 


Since then, countless versions of Shakespeare's plays have been reformatted, revised, and published, but the Folger Library scholars, among the foremost authorities on Shakespeare and his writing, have complied and edited his work in an attempt to be the most accurate contemporary versions available today.  The plays you have read in English at PHS have been Folger editions, and more information about their vetting process is detailed in the preface of your copy of Hamlet.

Click the link below to see how Hamlet looked in these older publications.  Please note that you will be using toe 4th Quarto (1622) in place of the 1st Folio.

Full Text Facsimiles

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