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Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $14
  • December 2007
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-92664-4
  • 5.2 × 8.4 in / 480 pages
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide

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King Lear

Norton Critical Editions


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William Shakespeare (Author), Grace Ioppolo (Editor, University of Reading)


This Norton Critical Edition is based on the Folio text of King Lear (carefully corrected prior to its printing in 1623). The editor has interpolated the best-known and most-often discussed passages from Quarto I (including the “mock-trial” scene) as is fully explained in both “A Note on the Text” and the annotations that accompany the play.

“Sources” helps readers navigate King Lear’s rich history and includes the nine essential primary sources from which Shakespeare borrowed significantly in creating his play, along with two additional likely sources.

“Criticism”provides thirteen major critical interpretations and three provocative adaptations and responses to King Lear. Critical interpretation is provided by Samuel Johnson, Charles Lamb, Peter Brook, Michael Warren, Lynda E. Boose, Janet Adelman, and R. A. Foakes, among others. The adaptations and responses are by Nahum Tate, John Keats, and Edward Bond.

A Selected Bibliography is also included.



    The Text of King Lear

    A Note on the Text

    Selected Textual Variants



    1. Anonymous – The True Chronicle History of King Lear and his three daughters, 1605
    2. John Higgins – The Mirror for Magistrates, 1574
    3. Raphael Holinshed – Chronicles, 1586
    4. Edmund Spenser – The Faerie Queene, 1590
    5. Sir Philip Sidney – The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia, 1590
    6. James VI of Scotland (later James I of Britain) – The True Law of Free Monarchies, 1598
    7. James I – Basilikon Doron, 1603
    8. Samuel Harsnett – A Declaration of Egregioius Popish Impostures, 1603
    9. William Camden – Remaines of a Greater Worke, Concerning Britaine, 1606


    1. The case of Cordell Annesley and her father, Bryan, 1603
    2. Geoffrey of Monmouth – Historia Regum Britanniae, c. 1135
    3. Criticism

    4. Nahum Tate – The History of King Lear, 1681
    5. Samuel Johnson – Notes on King Lear, 1681
    6. Charles Lamb – “On the Tragedies of Shakespeare,” 1810
    7. William Hazlitt – “Characters of Shakespeare’s Plays: King Lear,“ 1817
    8. A. C. Bradley – Shakespearean Tragedy, 1904
    9. Jan Kott – Shakespeare Our Contemporary, 1964
    10. Peter Brook – The Empty Space, 1968
    11. Michael Warren – “Quarto and Folio King Lear and the Interpretation of Albany and Edgar,” 1978
    12. Lynda E. Boose – “The Father and the Bride in Shakespeare,” 1982
    13. Janet Adelman – Suffocating Mothers, 1992
    14. Margot Heinemann – “Demystifying the Mystery of State: King Lear and the World Upside Down,” 1992
    15. R. A. Foakes – Hamlet versus Lear, 1993
    16. Stanley Cavell – Must We Mean What We Say?, 2002


    1. Nahum Tate – The History of King Lear, 1681
    2. John Keats – “On Sitting Down to Read King Lear Once Again,” 1818
    3. Edward Bond – Lear, 1971

    Selected Bibliography