The relations of the Henry VI plays to the chronicle histories of Hall and Holinshed

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1936

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Apparently no one has ever made a careful comparison of every available chronicle of this period of English history with the Contention and True Tragedy and with the Folio texts of Henry VI. Such a comparison will be the first object of this study. By such means we can have a surer basis for the determination of the priority of the dramas than we can by means of stylistic details and ambiguous contemporary allusions. I propose, then, in this study to compare minutely both the Folio and Quarto texts with Hall's Chronicles and with both the 1577 and the 1587 editions of Holinshed's Chronicles. This comparison includes also the 1 Henry VI in order that we may see whether the same general method of the use of sources has been made here as in the 2 and 3 Henry VI. Except for the question of authorship, with which this study does not propose to deal, the problem I have set before myself is the chief problem of the 2 and 3 Henry VI: the relationship of the 1594-5 Quartos and the 1623 Folio texts of the Henry VI plays to the chronicle histories of Hall and Holinshed. Such study will, I believe, go far to solve the often-discussed question of the relation of the Quarto to the Folio texts and will possibly help future students in determining the question of authorship. In any case, it will make clear what part of each of the Folio plays is original and what part is based definitely on the 1587 Holinshed or Hall. For this purpose, it will be necessary to compare 1, 2, and 3 Henry VI, act by act and scene by scene, with the 1577 and 1587 editions of Holinshed and with Hall. In this investigation I shall use the original editions of Holinshed because of the inadequacy of available reprints. Next, the Contention and True Tragedy will likewise be compared line by line with Hall and Holinshed. Third, the Folio texts will be compared with both 1577 and 1587 editions of Holinshed in an effort to determine whether one or both have been used. Fourth, the differences in the uses of Hall and of Holinshed in the Folio texts will be noted; and, finally, Hall will be considered as a source for the Quarto texts

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