London: J. Harrison, 1577
[S.L.] I [Holinshed - 1577] fol.
Written as part of a deliberate movement to elevate the status of England and all things English, Raphael Holinshed’s Chronicles – his only published work – constitutes the earliest authoritative vernacular and continuous account of the entirety of English history to date. The work appears in two Elizabethan editions: this one of 1577 and an adapted, censored, continued edition, estimated at three and a half million words, in 1587, seven years after Holinshed’s death. The revised edition of the Chronicles is Shakespeare’s single major source. Shakespeare drew on Holinshed for the bulk of one-third of his plays: all the histories of English kings (King John, Richard II, Richard III, the two parts of Henry IV, Henry V, the three parts of Henry VI, and Henry VIII), and also King Lear, Macbeth and Cymbeline. Holinshed is likely also to be behind Sir Thomas More and Edward III, in whose authorship Shakespeare is believed to have collaborated. Shakespeare adapted Holinshed’s material, omitting and contracting episodes and adding material gleaned from elsewhere, including Holinshed’s sources.