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A critical edition of Thomas Heywood's "The First and Second Partes of King Edward the Fourth"

Whitney Anne Peterson, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This is an old-spelling, old-punctuation edition of Thomas Heywood's I and II Edward IV, based on the Huntington Library's copy of the 1600 quarto and collated against the quartos of 1613, 1619, and 1626. In addition to the texts of the plays, this edition includes a critical introduction, notes on content and context, a table of substantive variants, an historical timeline, and a selected bibliography. Although the plays have not been published since Pearson's edition of 1874, their popularity in Heywood's own day is attested to by the frequency with which they were published. Six editions were published within Heywood's lifetime, in 1599, 1600, 1605, 1613, 1619, and 1626. Having been unable to locate an extant copy of the 1599 quarto, the current editor chose to use the 1600 quarto as the copy text. These plays deal with the same historical period as III Henry VI and Richard III, but Heywood's treatment of the material is vastly different than Shakespeare's. The Edward IV plays are a combination of historical romance and domestic drama. Although there are several subplots, the focus of the two plays is upon Edward's extramarital affair with Jane Shore, the wife of a London goldsmith. Jane is the true heroine of the plays, especially in Part II, as she repents of her infidelity and desperately seeks redemption in a life of good works. Her husband, Matthew Shore, is scarcely less important, and Heywood strays far from known historical fact in his portrayal of Matthew as the ideal Londoner and ideal citizen. Shore is a somewhat rigid and self-righteous individual, but Heywood clearly intends him to be a sort of everyman, a moral model for his audiences. The Shores' relationship in these plays is a clear precursor to the much better known domestic situation in Heywood's later play, A Woman Killed with Kindness.

Subject Area

British and Irish literature|Theater|Middle Ages

Recommended Citation

Peterson, Whitney Anne, "A critical edition of Thomas Heywood's "The First and Second Partes of King Edward the Fourth"" (1997). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9815904.