Q1, entitled The Chronicle History of Henry the fift (1600), differs substantially from the well-known F1 text: notably, there is no Chorus, and its text is shorter (1,640 lines of dialogue versus F1’s 3,227 lines), with scenes and speeches either drastically shorter or altogether absent, including the King’s famous “Once more unto the breach” battle cry in F1 2.1. Other features include: differences in lineation, sentence structure, and vocabulary; 4.1 and 4.2 as well as 4.4 and 4.5 are reversed in F1; differing line orders; and many lines are distributed to other characters in F1. This is especially evident in the case of the Dauphin, who plays a much larger role in F1 than in the quartos, where he disappears after 3.5. His role is subsumed by other characters, especially by the Duke of Bourbon, who waxes poetic about his horse in 3.7 rather than the Dauphin and who takes the Dauphin’s place in the Agincourt scenes.
Q1, unlike F1, is not broken up into acts, and neither Q1 nor F1 include the scene divisions that are frequently utilized in modern editions. Borrowing the act and scene divisions as laid out in the Folger Shakespeare Library’s digital edition of Henry V, the table below lays out the differences in scene distribution between Q1 and F1:
Since the early twentieth century, Q1 has perhaps unjustly carried the reputation of being a “bad” or “incomplete” quarto, in part due to its relation to and departures from the familiar F1 text. Though there are issues concerning incomplete stage directions – exits are often not marked, nor are characters in some scenes given entrances – the text itself reads smoothly, and a coherent staging arguably may be mounted from it.
Q2 (1602) was essentially a reprint of Q1, with no substantial textual modifications apart from minor corrections or missing words. There were, however, changes in lineation, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. During the early modern period, orthography was not regularized, and so various spellings of words (including names) were considered to be acceptable. Punctuation was evolving and was authorized – perhaps even expected – to be amended or corrected by the printing house.
Similar to Q2, Q3 also includes lineation, spelling, capitalization and punctuation changes. Q3, however, does include minor textual modifications such as additional stage directions as exits and missed character entrances that arguably make the text more “reader-friendly.” For example, Q3 adds “Fluellen” to the Q1/Q2’s stage direction “Enter Gower.”
Though the F1 edition, retitled The Life of Henry the Fift, most often serves as the base text for modern editions because it includes the Chorus and all of the play’s famous speeches in their familiar, quotable forms, the Folio’s existence does not necessarily render the quarto texts “bad” or “incomplete.” In fact, it is not unusual to find that modern editions and stage and screen adaptations such as Laurence Olivier’s Henry V (1944), or The Hollow Crown (2012) use F1’s version of the “St. Crispin’s Day” speech from 4.3 (fig. 7), but often “improve” it with Q1’s line “and say, these wounds I had on Crispines day” (fig. 8). See, for example, the Arden Shakespeare Third Edition (1995):
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say, “These wounds I had on Crispin’s Day.”