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Ed. Bernice W. Kliman
[The Persons Represented.
Claudius, King of Denmark, Mr. Crosby.
Hamlet, Son to the former King, Mr. Betterton.
Horatio, Hamlet’s friend, Mr. Smith.
Marcellus, an Officer, Mr. Lee.
Polonius, Lord Chamberlain, Mr. Noake.
Laertes, Son to Polonius. Mr. Young.
Rosincraus, ) Mr. Norris.
Guildenstern, ) two Courtiers, Mr. Cademan.
Cum aliis..
Fortinbrass, King of Norway, Mr. Percival.
Ostrick, a fantastical Courtier Mr. Fenan.
Barnardo, ) two Centinels, Mr. Rathband.
Francisco, ) Mr. Floyd.
Ghost of Hamlets Father. Mr. Medburn
Two Grave-makers. Mr. Undril.
Mr. Williams.
Gertrard, Queen of Denmark. Mrs. Shadwel.
Ophelia, in love with Hamlet. Mrs. Betterton.]
1590 Bassa
Bassa apud Hakluyt
0 Polonius Hakluyt (1598, 6: 69-75) <p.69> records a letter in Latin and trans. into English from “Sinan Bassa chiefe counsellour to Sultan Murad Can the Grand Signior, to the sacred Majestie of Elizabeth Queene of England, shewing that upon her request, and for her sake especially, hee graunted peace unto the King and kingdome of Poland.” </p.69> <p. 72> It appears that the reason Queen Elizabeth intervened was “that from the partes of Poland you were furnished wth corne, gun-powder, mastes of ships, guns, and other necessaries, and craving peace on the behalfe of the kingdome and king of Poland, and making intercession [. . .] & declaring that this was your Majesties most earnest desire; [. . .] the Grand Signor, for your sake, unto whom all honour and favourable regard is due, upon the condition aforesaid, namely, that the wicked Cosacks /<p. 72><p. 73> might be sought out and grievously punished, or that their offences might be remitted for the value of some small gift, upon this condition (I say) the letters of his imperiall Highnesse were sent unto the king of Poland [. . .].” Bassa asserts that without her intervention, his Highness would not have desisted until he had conquered Poland. Written from Constantinople, 12 June 1590. </p.73>
1592-3 Gentili/Rainolds correspondence
Gentili/Rainolds: Deut.22.5: transvestite actors; male actors playing female roles
Gertrude/Ophelia: if Hamlet was performed in the universities, as the Q1 TP asserts, they were played by men dressed as women. Gentile argued that this practice was not illicit because, among other reasons, the playing space was private; Rainolds argued that it was illicit because the public were invited to college performances. Binns (1974) discusses the argument in full.

1603 Q1
Q1 TP: Universities
Q1’s title page lists the two universities, Oxford and Cambridge, as acting venues for the play. See 1592 entry.

1676 Q6
Q6: Persons Represented
Persons Represented Q6 is the first edition of the play to list the players, including at the end the two women playing the roles of Gertrude and Ophelia. Betterton was the actor-manager and his wife played Ophelia.
1765 Johnson1 aka john1
0 texts Johnson (1765, 8: 128, below Dp list): “Of this Play the Editions are, 1. Quarto 1605. J. R. for N. L. 2. 1611. W. S. for John Smethwicke. 3. 1637. R. Young, for John Smethwicke. 4. No date. W. S. for John Smethwicke. ***I have only the third Quarto [Q5] and Folio.”
Ed. note: Eric Rasmussen gives Q4 a date of 1623 before F1 Hamlet was set. Q1 was unknown in the 18th century having been rediscovered in 1823.
0 texts Johnson (ed. 1765): “This Play is printed both in the folio of 1623, and in the quarto of 1637, more correctly, than almost any other of the works of Shakespeare .”
0 texts Johnson (ohn2 App. to Vol. 8, after last notes): “I have endeavoured to enumerate the Editions of Shakespeare’s Plays, but finding that I have paid too much regard to inaccurate catalogues, I think it necessary to subjoin the following list given me by Mr. Steevens.”
0 texts Steevens (apud Johnson, ed. 1765, App. to Vol. 8, last notes): “The Editions marked with Asterisks are in no former Tables.
“I know no one who has seen those in Italic Character, but find them in Mr. Pope’s and Mr. Theobald’s Tables, and in Dr. Warburton’s, which is compiled from them. [Thus, Steevens claims no innovations for the Hamlet texts.]
“XIX, 1. Hamlet, William Shakespeare, 1605, I. R. for N. L.
2. D[itt]o, William Shakespeare, 1611, for John Smethwicke.
3. D[itt]o. William Shakespeare, no date, W. S. for D[itt]o.
4. D[itt]o, William Shakespeare, 1637, R. Young for D[itt]o.
[. . .].
“Of all the other plays, the only authentick edition is the folio of 1623, from which the subsequent folios, never vary, but by accident and negligence.”
1765 Johnson2 aka john2
Johnson2 = john1
0 texts Johnson (1765, 8: 128, below Dp list)
1773 1773 variorum ed. aka v1773
v1773 ≈ john2
0 texts
1793 1773 variorum ed. aka v1793
0 Hamlet Steevens (ed. 1793): “i.e. Amleth. The h transferred from the end to the beginning of the name. Steevens.
1803 v1803
v1803 = v1793
0 Hamlet
1813 v1813
v1813 = v1803
0 Hamlet
1825 European Magazine
"Gunthio" pseudonym (Collier?)
0 persons represented in Q1; headings] "Gunthio" (1825, p. 345), after discussing the name Corambis used for Polonius [see CN 176], continues with other differences between Q1 and Q2: “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are metamorphosed into Rossencraft and Gilderstone, and Cornelius and Voltimand into Cornelia and Voltemar; for Reynaldo [sic, not italicized], we have Montano; the King is distinguished by his regal title only, being nowhere termed Claudius; and Osric is merely called ’a braggart gentleman.’ The head-lines of the pages present a singularity deserving notice, the play being throughout alternatively styled ’The Tragedie of Hamlet,’ and ’The Tragedy of Hamlet.’ [on verso pages; recto pages Prince of Denmarke throughout. To find the same word variously spelled in the same page of old books and manuscripts is by no means uncommon, but this regular irregularity is what I never before remarked.”
1876 Athenaeum 26 July
0 Fortinbrass Browne (Athen. 26 July 1876, apud Dowden, ed. 1899, p. xxiii): “‘Fortinbras,’ wrote Mr. Elliot Browne (Athenaeum July 26, 1876), is evidently Fortebras, or Strongarm of the family of Ferumbras of the romances, or may have come directly from Niccolo Fortebraccio, the famous leader of the condottieri.’”
1877 v1877
0 Furness (ed. 1877) confounds in “Steev.” all the Steevens editions. So he ignores the differences among v1773, v1778, v1785 and v1793 for example in spelling of Elsinore.
1888 bry
0 Laertes Bryant (ed. 1888, opp. p. 1216): “The character of Laertes is a good portrait of the weak, mouthing ranter, whose passion explodes in words and not in deed. It is a part that John McCullough took in his earlier days, but is naturally not linked with the name of many famous actors.”
0 Ophelia Bryant (ed. 1888): “has been successfully impersonated by many of the great actresses, especially Helen Faucit, Dora Jordan, Frances Abington, and Peg Woffington. The latter’s first real fame was won in the part.”
1890 irv2
0 time Marshall (ed. 1890), to the standard Dramatis Personae adds “Historic Period: Supposed about the end of the 9th or the beginning of the 10th century.” He also adds, from his Study of Hamlet, 1875), a time scheme, with Day 1, act1, 1-3; Day 2, act 1.4-5; interval of two months; Day 3, act 2; Day 4, act3, act 4-3; Day 5, act 4.4; interval about two months; Day 6, 4. 5-7; interval two days; Day 7, 5.1; Day 8, 5.2. He also refers to Daniel, who varies from this scheme by allowing only a week between 4.4 and 4.5, no interval between acts 4 and 5, and one day for the whole of act 5.
1898 Gollancz
0 Hamlet Gollancz (1898; 1926) argues that the name derived from Alefir of Celtic legends.
1899 ard1
ard1 = Browne Athen. 26 July 1876
0 Fortinbrass
0 Gertradt Dowden (ed. 1899, p. xxiii): derived from Saxo’s Gerutha.
0 Horatio] Dowden (ed. 1899, p. xxiii): The name for Andrea’s faithful friend in the pre-Shn play Jeronimo and in The Spanish Tragedy.
0 Ophelia] Dowden (ed. 1899, p. xxiii): in the form found in Q1, the name and that of Montano (Reynaldo in Q2/F1) appear in Arcadia, by Sannazaro.
0 Rosincraus, Guyldensterne] The names are relatively common Danish names. Dowden (ed. 1899, p. xxiii) refers to a facsimile in Shakespeare Jahrbuch [25 (1890): 280-6] showing autograph signatures of a Jörgen Rossenkrantz and a P. Guldenstern in an album dated 1577 found at the Royal Public Library in Stuttgart. The album’s owner had lived in Copenhagen. this may be the sort of album June Schlueter has studied. I added a note to look up the SJ“Shakespeare probably obtained the names from actors who had returned from the Continent.”
1904 Gollancz
0 Polonius See Kliman, “Three Notes on Polonius: Position, Residence and Name.” Shakespeare Bulletin 20.2 (Spring 2002): 5-7. See also below.
1917 yal1
0 Persons Represented Crawford (ed. 1917) credits Q6 with the first list of characters, noting that most eds. credit Rowe.
1917 yal1
yal1Gollancz’s Hamlet in Iceland 1898, intro
0 Hamlet Crawford (ed. 1917) cites two early references to the name: (1) cited by Gollancz, The Annals of Ireland by Four Masters, -917, and (2) Snorri’s Prose Edda c. 1200.
1926 Gollancz
Gollancz ≈ Gollancz 1898
0 Hamlet Gollancz (1926, p. ix) reaffirms that he believes the original name derived from Celtic legend, transformed from “Aleifr, the equivalent of Olaf.”
1929 trav
0 Dramatis Personae Travers (ed. 1929): those who noticed the heterogeneity of names probably thought it added to the exotic flavor of the story.
1929 trav
0 Claudius Travers (ed. 1929): “The name actually occurs only (but in both Q2 and F.) in the stage-direction heading [176].” He also refers to his note for Claudio [3051], “which is just, in Italian garb [. . . ] the name already given to the king himself in [176]; but this name, the audience never hears.”
0 176 3051
0 Hamlet Travers (ed. 1929): “Only the names of Hamlet and of his mother recall those in Belleforest. The rest are a medley of Latin, Italian, Danish, French, and Greek. But Latin was then international; the charm of Italian and Italian associations was widely felt [. . . ].”
0 Polonius Travers (ed. 1929) “apparently meaning the Polonian, or, as we should now say, the Pole. Shakespearean geography seems vague about the respective situations of Elsinore and Poland on the map ( [4.4]; cp [79] ); and Shakespearean history could tolerate stranger things than the presence, at a Danish court, of a Lord Chamberlain called the Pole and whose son and daughter had Greek names.”
0 Laertes Travers (ed. 1935) comments on the strangeness of Greek names for the son and daughter of a Pole; “Laertes may suggest sinewy suppleness.”
trav : [Cham. W. Sh may precede]
0 Fortinbrasse Travers (ed. 1929): “carries with it an atmosphere of medieval romance.” See n 112 where Travers refers to other heroes of romance with similar names.
0 Voltimand, Cornelius, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern Travers (ed. 1929): names “easily recognisable as Danish.”
trav : TLS
0 Rosencrantz Travers (ed. 1929) refers to a letter in TLS and thus may precede Wilson’s ref to TLS.
To do: TLS article and doc. See Dowden.
0 Reynaldo Travers (ed. 1929) says he is evidently a servant “of the higher sort; addressed as ‘sir’ in [913].”
0 Clowns Travers (ed. 1929) uses the word boor three times to describe them and their function in the play.
0 Ophelia Travers (ed. 1929): “It is not difficult to fancy something tender, reed-like, a little plaintive, about ‘Ophelia.’
0 Scene: Elsinore Travers (ed. 1929) thinks that Elsinore is a better idea than Denmark because the whole action (including 4.4) takes place in its environs. “As to the choice of Elsinore [. . . ], whose royal castle of Kronborg was finished about the middle of the xvith century, it may well be due to the fact that a company of English actors visited the town and played there in 1585. In the following year, members of Shakespeare’s future company gave performances at the Danish Court; and English actors again plays at Copenhagen, at the coronation of Christian IV, in 1596.”
1930 Granville-Barker
0 Granville-Barker (1930, rpt. 1946, 1: 33) objects to the division into acts and scenes [that began with Rowe (ed. 1709)]; he develops a tripartite scheme (see 1: 47-158).
1934 Wilson
Wilson MSH
176 Gertradt] The name appears elsewhere as Gertrard (1078, 1678, 2378, 2592, 2615, 2626, 2744, 2814 [bis], 2831, 2867, 2871, 3185, 3495, 3760). Wilson (1934, p. 307), who thinks the name should be Gertrude as it is throughout F1, ascribes the difference in Q2 to the compositor’s mistaking of u for a, and vice versa, of which instances abound in Shakespeare and especially in Q2. He gives among other examples, course for coarse (287) and quietas for quietus (1729).
1934 cam3
176 Claudius] Wilson (ed. 1934, intro. pp. xxiii-xxiv), <p. xxiii> considering the possibility of an Italian source for The Murder of Gonzago, thinks that the king derives from that same source because in Hamlet but not in the Danish sources, he is “effeminate and Italianate. Not without courage and possessed of considerable intellectual powers, he presents nevertheless a mean and contemptible figure. He is a prey to lust, works by spying, and listen behind </p. xxiii> <p. xxiv> hangings; if murder is to be done, he eggs on others, when he can, to do it for him; and his trump card, when all else fails, is poison—poison in a ‘vial,’ a drinking-cup, or on the point of an unbated foil. It is in keeping with all this that he should out his brother out of the world by an act which could only have originated in decadent Italy, an act which revolts us less by its base treachery than by its hideous and unnatural character. Claudius was a ‘politician’ in the sixteenth-century meaning of that word, a man who lived by dropping poison into other people’s ears, and his supreme crime is but the symbol of his personality. Such a being was bred not at Elsinore, but at some petty Italian court. Yet his insertion into the Hamlet frame was a masterly stroke. The man of violence, the Laertes type, is useful as a foil to Hamlet; but for his antagonist it was essential to have a man of great cunning, since one of the main interests of the play is the spectacle of two extraordinarily subtle men engaged in a deadly duel of wits.” </p. xxiv>
1019 Rosencraus] Wilson (ed. 1934): “The Q2 sp. is ‘Rosencraus and Guyldenstern.’ Both names appear in the official records of the University of Wittenberg, and as Rosencrans and Guldensteren on a contemporary engraving of the portrait of Tycho Brahe (cf. Chambers, Will. Shak. 1, 425 [1930]).”
3415 Doct.] Wilson (ed. 1934): “Doctor of Divinity {cf note 5.1.212. S.D.)”
3415 Doct.] Wilson (ed. 1934): The SD [3405] as in modern edd. suggests a Catholic ceremony, with Priest (as in F1) and candles; “this flies in the face of Hamlet’s talk of ‘maimed rites’ immediately after SD, at 3408. The SP in Q2 is not Priest but Doctor, which Wilson takes to be one “Doctor of Divinity, i.e. an Eliz. cleric. Canon Dearmer, who agrees, writes privately, ‘he would wear a gown, and a tippet over his cassock, and a square cap. as ordered in the canon of 1604, the tippet being what we call a black scarf’ (cf. note 1.2.113 [.” There Wilson notes that Hamlet’s education in Wittenberg shows that he was brought up a Protestant.
1934 Wilson
Wilson MSH
213 Voltemand] Wilson (1934, pp. 289-90) quotes Greg (Emendation p. 20; Aspects p. 198) on the name: Voltimand, the spelling preferred by eds.: Voltimand, from F2 [also in Q6]. Greg lists the forms in the early texts: Q1 “Voltemar” (bis), Q2 “Valtemand” (bis), F1 “Voltemand” (bis, Greg says; actually 3x) and “Voltumand” (bis). The evidence is overwhelming for Volte- [but the pronunciation of all is probably the same]. There is no such Danish name, he says, but of course many of the names are not Danish. “It is presumably a corruption of Valdemar, and Q1 may indicate that the actors attempted to correct Shakespeare on the stage. Mr. J. H. Helweg writes to suggest that several queer names in Hamlet are perversions of Danish.”
Wilson adds his guesses about the name. He disagrees with Greg about the actors correcting Shakespeare More likely, like Corambis, Voltemar represents an earlier form of the name. </p. 289><p. 290> In any case, Voltimand is entirely wrong. </p. 290>
1934 cam3
0 Hamlet. Wilson (ed. 1934, pp. lxv-lxvi) Wilson’s last point is that Hamlet may be based on a real person: Essex.
3838 Osrick] Wilson (ed. 1934): “Another Danish name; given to Hamlet’s brother in the Saxo Grammaticus story.”
1958 mun
munalex + DP for play-within †
0 Dp
1980 pen2
0 Hamlet] Barton (ed. 1980) claims that the names of Hamlet and Brutus both mean “the stupid one.”
0 Gertrad] Barton (ed. 1980, p.9) points out that while in Saxo, she “had been the innocent victim of her brother-in-law’s ambition and lust,” in Belleforest she was an adultress and willing accomplice.
1985 cam4
0 Edwards (ed. 1985, p. 70) notes that Hamlet, Gertrude derive from Saxo; Rosencrants and Guildenstern, Voltemand, Yaughan, Yorick, Osric Danish names, though Osric is also an A-S name (as Jenkins pts out). Laertes and Ophelia = Greek; Claudius, Marcellus, Cornelius = Roman. Horatio, Francsco Barnardo run of the mill playhouse names, with Horatio being the name of the murdered son in The Spanish Tragedy.
1985 cam4
cam4 ≈ trav on Polonius without attribution
0 Edwards (ed. 1985, p. 70): “Fortinbras, with its Frenchness (‘Strong-arm), is an odd name for a Norwegian king and his son. Polonius is even more perplexing; Polonia was a regular name for Poland.”
2002 ShB
0 Polonius Kliman (ShB 20.2 (Spring 2002): 5-7): Shakespeare may have introduced the name Polonius as a compliment to Queen Elizabeth. In 1597, expressly at the queen’s command, Robert Cecil wrote to the Earl of Essex about the visit of a Polish ambassador to the Court; she was proud of the way she had acquitted herself with him. Thomas Wright (Queen Elizabeth and Her Times, A Series of Original Letters [London, 1838], 2: 477-81) reproduces the letter, and Bullough, who includes the relevant section, evidently sees it as an allusion to English-Polish relations (7: 43-45). But there may be more to it. Even if Shakespeare never read the letter, the event would probably have had wide currency since the queen wished it to be known. Briefly, hearing about the arrival of
"an ambassador out of Poland, a gentleman of excellent fashion, witte, discourse, language and person; the Quene was possessed by some of our new counsellours, that are as cunning in intelligence as in decyphering, that his negotiation tendeth to a proposition of peace."
Her shock must have been great when this splendidly-dressed gentleman, “well jewelled and buttoned” (his apparel proclaimed the man, as Grimaldus himself advised, 137; Hamlet 537), after greeting her courteously and kissing her ring, stepped well back so that all of the multitude present could hear him and proceeded to discourse in Latin a long tirade against her, to the effect that the queen had
"suffered [Polish merchants and subjects of all quality] to be spoyled without restitution, not for lacke of knowledge of the violences, but out of meere injustice, not caring to minister remedy, notwithstanding many particular petitions and letters received [. . . ]"
“concluding that if her Majestie would not reforme it, he [the Polish King] would.” Cecil continues,
"To this I swear by the living God, her Majestie made one of the best answers extempore, in Latin, that ever I heard, being much moved to be so challenged in publick, especially against her expectation."
She criticized the ambassador for speaking to her in public in such a way, contrary to the usage of monarchs with each other; spoke slightingly about the Polish monarch as being chosen by election rather than heredity; but offered to have some of her counselors meet with the ambassador to assess his claims. After her speech, the queen turned to the audience and exclaimed, “God’s death! my Lords, (for that was her oath ever in anger,) I have been enforced this day to scour up my old Latin, that hath lain long in rusting!” So proud of herself was she that she insisted that Cecil write to Essex, and the former urged the latter, when he would write to the queen, “I pray you to take notice that you were pleased to heare of her wise and eloquent answers.” Surely Queen Elizabeth would have been pleased had she seen the self-important, wordy, and over-weening Polonius in 1602.