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Examination Questions on King Lear

Question: When and in what form was King Lear first published?

Answer: King Lear was first published in 1608, in quarto form. Two quartos appeared in that year, differing in punctuation, spelling, pagination, and text so much as to make the fact evident that one quarto was not merely a corrected copy of the other. The titles of the two quartos were identical with the exception that the imprint "London: printed for Nathaniel Butler and are to be sold at his shop in Paul's churchyard at the sign of the pied bull near St. Austin's Gate, 1608," is replaced by "Printed for Nathaniel Butler, 1608."

The variations in these two quartos and in the copies of them gave rise to the opinion entertained by Mr. Hudson, I believe, that there was a third quarto edition. The theory has been found false, and we hear of no more publications, until King Lear shares with Othello, Macbeth, and Cymbeline the honor of being divided into acts and scenes in the folio of 1623. It is thought that the quartos were among the "stolne" and "surreptitious" copies of Shakespeare's plays, condemned by Heminge and Condell, the editors of the First Folio. The Folio is superior to the quarto editions with regard to text, but the quartos contain about 225 lines not found in the Folio, including Act IV. Sc. iii.

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How to cite this article:
Williams, Maggie. Shakespeare Examinations. Ed. William Taylor Thom, M. A. Boston: Ginn and Co., 1888. Shakespeare Online. 10 Aug. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < >.

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