Richard III Quarto Editions and the First Folio (1597-1623)
Richard III might have been performed for the first time in late 1591, the year it was likely written by Shakespeare. The play was published in quarto format five times between 1597 and 1623 (Figure 1), before appearing in the First Folio “Histories” section of the collection (Figure 2). As the title page of the 1597 quarto attests, Lord Chamberlain’s Men performed the play, which at the time included Shakespeare. Members of the King’s Men—as the Lord Chamberlain’s Men were called after James I ascended the throne in 1603—assembled the plays from memory and, perhaps, manuscript sources that are no longer extant into what is now known as the First Folio in 1623 (Figure 3).