A scene from Henry IV featuring Falstaff

Henry IV (Part 1)
Play by Shakespeare

Picture - A scene featuring Falstaff the jovial, overweight Knight.

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Henry IV (Part 1) the play by William Shakespeare

Free Full online text - script of Henry IV (Part1) play by William Shakespeare
Cast and characters in Henry IV (Part1) by William Shakespeare
Index of plays by William Shakespeare

Introduction - The play and the image displayed in the picture
This section is dedicated to Henry IV (Part1), the play by William Shakespeare. The picture is 18th century and image displayed represents the essence of the play which, we hope, will bring to life a famous scene or character from the play. The information provided on this page includes famous quotes / quotations, summary of the plot or story, facts about the play, a list of the cast and characters and access to the full text - script the play by William Shakespeare

Summary of the plot or story
This is one of Shakespeare's most popular plays, featuring the opportunistic , Sir John Falstaff. Part I is the second in a series of four English history plays that make up Shakespeare's major tetralogy. It continues the saga of the Bolingbrook family and the Plantagenet monarchy that begins with Henry IV's seizure of power in Richard II and the coming of age of Prince Henry. The plot shifts back and forth between the troubled realm of Henry IV's court and the vulgar world of the tavern in which Sir John Falstaff presides over his group of rascals and is joined by the fun-loving Prince Henry or Hal. The plot encompasses rebellion and the struggle for power. Prince Hal and Falstaff join the fighting and Hal kills the rebel Hotspur. Falstaff feigns death saying, "The better part of valour is discretion; in the which better part, I have saved my life.". The play concludes with King Henry and Hal leaving for Wales to confront rebels. At the same time, Prince John of Lancaster, Hal's younger brother, heads toward York to do battle with rebel forces led by the Earl of Northumberland (Hotspur's father). 

Information provided about the play
William Shakespeare never published any of his plays and therefore none of the original manuscripts have survived. Eighteen unauthorised versions of his plays were, however, published during his lifetime in quarto editions by unscrupulous publishers (there were no copyright laws protecting Shakespeare and his works during the Elizabethan era). A collection of his works did not appear until 1623 ( a full seven years after Shakespeare's death on April 23, 1616) when two of his fellow actors, John Hemminges and Henry Condell, posthumously recorded his work and published 36 of Williamís plays in the First Folio. Some dates are therefore approximate other dates are substantiated by historical events, records of performances and the dates plays appeared in print.

Date Henry IV (Part1) was first performed
It is believed that Henry IV (Part1) was first performed between 1597 and 1598. In the Elizabethan era there was a huge demand for new entertainment and Henry IV (Part1) would have been produced immediately following the completion of the play.

Date first printed
It is believed that the script was first printed in 1597. As William Shakespeare clearly did not want his work published details of the play would have therefore been noted, and often pirated without his consent, following a performance.

The settings for Henry IV (Part1)
The settings are London, Rochester, and York in England

Theme of Henry IV (Part1)
The play is categorised as a History

Number of words
The number of words in the script, according to the Complete Public Domain Text is 26,158

Famous Quotes / Quotations
These quotes are amongst Shakespeare's most famous including 'The better part of valour is discretion'. Details of this famous quote follows, complete with information regarding the Act and the Scene, allowing a quick reference to the section of the play that this quotation can be found in. Please click here for the full text of the script of the play.

"He will give the devil his due". Henry IV (Part1) (Act I, Scene II). 

"The better part of valour is discretion". Henry IV (Part1) (Act V, Scene IV)


Henry IV (Part1) was based on real people and events taken from English history. The characters are from the royal Houses of Lancaster and York.
House of Lancaster
Henry IV ("Bolingbroke," son of the Duke of Lancaster), 1399-1413. 
Henry V (son of Henry IV), 1413-1422.
Henry VI (son of Henry V, deposed), 1422-1471. 
House of York:
Edward IV (son of duke of York), 1461-1483.
Edward V (son of Edward IV), 1483.
Richard III ("Crookback," brother of Edward IV) 1483-1485.

We recommend the following link to access facts, information, a biography and timeline of
King Henry IV

William Shakespeare's Main Source
The Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland by Raphael Holinshed 

The drama has inspired other works such as the Falstaff Opera by Verdi centering on the Comic Shakespeare Character in this play

The Cast and Characters
Click the link at the top of the page to access a list of all the cast and characters of Henry IV (Part1).

  Henry IV (Part 1) the play by William Shakespeare

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