University of Virginia Library

Authority, as Greg pointed out, is a comparative term.[1] As has long been recognized, Richard II belongs to a group of Folio texts printed from quarto copy, from an exemplar of an early print which had been annotated by reference to an authoritative manuscript (presumably the promptbook). It therefore derives from a text itself derivative, but sprinkled, so to speak, with authority—or at least with potential authority.

An editor's job is to isolate those sprinklings of authority from the surrounding drought of derivation and corruption. This can be done only by first determining where the Folio simply reproduces an earlier printed text, and then by analysing the pattern and the nature of its departures from that text. In the case of Richard II, there is general agreement that F for the most part reproduces the text of Q3 (1598); it has, however, been suggested that for two passages (4.1.154-318, 5.5.19-5.6.52; TLN 2074-2243, 2685-2849) F was set up from a copy of Q5 (1615). The claims for a direct bibliographical dependence upon Q5 are considered (and rejected) in the first two sections of this paper. In the third section we turn to an analysis of the Folio's departures from its Q3 copy in an attempt to discern where the manuscript was consulted; in the fourth we consider what authority should be accorded the readings apparently taken from that manuscript; in the fifth, we analyse in detail the textual problem of the so-called 'abdication episode' (present in Q4, Q5, and F, but not in Q1). As a result of these interrelated investigations, we offer, finally, a newly comprehensive account of the relationship between Q1, F1, and the manuscripts which must have lain behind them.