Romeo and Juliet

This copy of the 1599 2nd Quarto of Romeo and Juliet was owned by William Drummond, and given by him to the College, now the University, of Edinburgh in 1626. Evidence of the library's cataloguing systems from previous centuries can be seen on the titlepage, where Drummond had earlier inscribed his own signature. He also supplied the author's name in an abbreviated version, which hadn't been included by the publisher.

Although it was the second quarto edition of the play to be published, it is the first to feature the text familiar to us now. The 1st Quarto, published in 1597, is shorter by some 700 lines. For many years this shorter play was assumed to be a pirated or unlicensed edition put together from memory. It is now thought more likely that the 1st Quarto represents the play as performed on the early modern stage. The 2nd Quarto, which announces on its titlepage that it features a 'newly corrected, augmented and amended' text, is likely to be closer to the licensed playtext on which performance versions would draw, but which was not intended to be played in its entirety. When published, such texts were designed for reading rather than use in the theatre. In his library lists, Drummond recorded Romeo and Juliet among the books he read in 1606.


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Further Study

This copy is held at the University of Edinburgh library, shelfmark De.3.73. For more on the textual and publication history of Romeo and Juliet, see Lukas Erne, Shakespeare as Literary Dramatist (Cambridge, 2003), Jay L. Halio, ed., Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet': Texts, Contexts, Interpretation (Newark, 1995), Andrew Murphy, Shakespeare in Print (Cambridge, 2003) and Stanley Wells, Gary Taylor, John Jowett and William Montgomery, eds, William Shakespeare: A Textual Companion (Oxford, 1987).