The last of Shakespeare's plays about English history, Henry VIII tells the story of a monarchy in crisis, as noblemen battle and the people are almost at a point of rebellion. The sly Cardinal Wolsey, the resounding defense of Katherine's marriage by herself, and the questionable ethics of Henry himself make for one of Shakespeare's most intriguing plays.
The Folger Shakespeare Library edition contains full explanatory notes on facing pages, scene-by-scene plot summaries, a key to famous lines and phrases, and introduction and essay by an outstanding scholar.
296 pages, softcover.
In Henry VIII, Shakespeare presents a monarchy in crisis. Noblemen battle with Lord Chancellor Cardinal Wolsey, who taxes the people to the point of rebellion. Witnesses whom Wolsey brings against the Duke of Buckingham claim he is conspiring to take the throne, yet Buckingham seems innocent as he goes to his death.
Henry is also without a male heir. After meeting the beautiful Anne Bullen, he says that he suspects his current marriage to Katherine, with whom he has one surviving daughter, is invalid. Katherine, meanwhile, glows with such splendid integrity that actresses have long desired the role. She advocates for the people, suspects the witnesses against Buckingham, and eloquently defends her conduct as Henry’s wife.
The authoritative edition of Henry VIII from The Folger Shakespeare Library, the trusted and widely used Shakespeare series for students and general readers, includes:
-Freshly edited text based on the best early printed version of the play
-Full explanatory notes conveniently placed on pages facing the text of the play
-Scene-by-scene plot summaries
-A key to the play’s famous lines and phrases
-An introduction to reading Shakespeare’s language
-An essay by a leading Shakespeare scholar providing a modern perspective on the play
-Fresh images from the Folger Shakespeare Library’s vast holdings of rare books
-An annotated guide to further reading
Essay by Barbara A. Mowat
The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, is home to the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare’s printed works, and a magnet for Shakespeare scholars from around the globe. In addition to exhibitions open to the public throughout the year, the Folger offers a full calendar of performances and programs. For more information, visit Folger.edu.
William Shakespeare was born in April 1564 in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon, on Englands Avon River. When he was eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway. The couple had three childrenan older daughter Susanna and twins, Judith and Hamnet. Hamnet, Shakespeares only son, died in childhood. The bulk of Shakespeares working life was spent in the theater world of London, where he established himself professionally by the early 1590s. He enjoyed success not only as a playwright and poet, but also as an actor and shareholder in an acting company. Although some think that sometime between 1610 and 1613 Shakespeare retired from the theater and returned home to Stratford, where he died in 1616, others believe that he may have continued to work in London until close to his death.
Barbara A. Mowat is Director of Research emerita at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Consulting Editor of Shakespeare Quarterly, and author of The Dramaturgy of Shakespeares Romances and of essays on Shakespeares plays and their editing.
Paul Werstine is Professor of English at the Graduate School and at Kings University College at Western University. He is a general editor of the New Variorum Shakespeare and author of Early Modern Playhouse Manuscripts and the Editing of Shakespeare and of many papers and articles on the printing and editing of Shakespeares plays.