Samuel Daniel’s The First Four Books of the Civil Wars, published in 1595, is a source for the play, which was registered at the Stationers’ Company on 25th February 1598. It was probably written in late 1596 or early 1597.
This popular play was first printed as a quarto, probably typeset from Shakespeare’s draft manuscripts, or a transcript of them. There were two editions in 1598, then in 1599, 1604, 1608, 1613, and 1622: each successive quarto being typeset from the preceding one. The First Folio version was typeset from the fifth quarto, with Heminge and Condell possibly using the acting company’s prompt-book as part of their amendments.
‘A good portly man, i’faith, and a corpulent; of a cheerful
Look, a pleasing eye, and a most noble carriage.’
Henry IV, Part 1, II iv
Brief synopsis of the play
Henry IV despairs: as King, since the country faces rebellions led by Glendower and Hotspur, but also as a father, since the wayward Prince Hal seems unsuited to inherit the throne. The Father-Son relationship is a theme that recurs in this history play: Hotspur seems the model son of the Duke of Northumberland; and Hal allows himself to be tutored by the appealing rogue Sir John Falstaff, Shakespeare’s most brilliant comic characterisation.