Cover image for The Life of King Henry the Eighth
The Life of King Henry the Eighth
Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616.
Uniform Title:
King Henry VIII
New edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Penguin Books, [2001]

Physical Description:
xlviii, 126 pages ; 20 cm.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR2817.A2 C74 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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The acclaimed Pelican Shakespeare series edited by A. R. Braunmuller and Stephen Orgel

The legendary Pelican Shakespeare series features authoritative and meticulously researched texts paired with scholarship by renowned Shakespeareans. Each book includes an essay on the theatrical world of Shakespeare's time, an introduction to the individual play, and a detailed note on the text used. Updated by general editors Stephen Orgel and A. R. Braunmuller, these easy-to-read editions incorporate over thirty years of Shakespeare scholarship undertaken since the original series, edited by Alfred Harbage, appeared between 1956 and 1967. With definitive texts and illuminating essays, the Pelican Shakespeare will remain a valued resource for students, teachers, and theater professionals for many years to come.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Author Notes

William Shakespeare, 1564 - 1616 Although there are many myths and mysteries surrounding William Shakespeare, a great deal is actually known about his life. He was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, son of John Shakespeare, a prosperous merchant and local politician and Mary Arden, who had the wealth to send their oldest son to Stratford Grammar School.

At 18, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, the 27-year-old daughter of a local farmer, and they had their first daughter six months later. He probably developed an interest in theatre by watching plays performed by traveling players in Stratford while still in his youth. Some time before 1592, he left his family to take up residence in London, where he began acting and writing plays and poetry.

By 1594 Shakespeare had become a member and part owner of an acting company called The Lord Chamberlain's Men, where he soon became the company's principal playwright. His plays enjoyed great popularity and high critical acclaim in the newly built Globe Theatre. It was through his popularity that the troupe gained the attention of the new king, James I, who appointed them the King's Players in 1603. Before retiring to Stratford in 1613, after the Globe burned down, he wrote more than three dozen plays (that we are sure of) and more than 150 sonnets. He was celebrated by Ben Jonson, one of the leading playwrights of the day, as a writer who would be "not for an age, but for all time," a prediction that has proved to be true.

Today, Shakespeare towers over all other English writers and has few rivals in any language. His genius and creativity continue to astound scholars, and his plays continue to delight audiences. Many have served as the basis for operas, ballets, musical compositions, and films. While Jonson and other writers labored over their plays, Shakespeare seems to have had the ability to turn out work of exceptionally high caliber at an amazing speed. At the height of his career, he wrote an average of two plays a year as well as dozens of poems, songs, and possibly even verses for tombstones and heraldic shields, all while he continued to act in the plays performed by the Lord Chamberlain's Men. This staggering output is even more impressive when one considers its variety. Except for the English history plays, he never wrote the same kind of play twice. He seems to have had a good deal of fun in trying his hand at every kind of play.

Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets, all published on 1609, most of which were dedicated to his patron Henry Wriothsley, The Earl of Southhampton. He also wrote 13 comedies, 13 histories, 6 tragedies, and 4 tragecomedies. He died at Stratford-upon-Avon April 23, 1616, and was buried two days later on the grounds of Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. His cause of death was unknown, but it is surmised that he knew he was dying.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

This latest edition to the great "Pelican Shakespeare" line is as noteworthy as the previous volumes. It includes the full text of the play, an introduction, an essay on the theater, and more, all for the price of a Happy Meal. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



The Life of King Henry the Eighth the prologue I come no more to make you laugh. Things now That bear a weighty and a serious brow, Sad, high, and working, full of state and woe, 3 Such noble scenes as draw the eye to flow We now present. Those that can pity, here May (if they think it well) let fall a tear: The subject will deserve it. Such as give Their money out of hope they may believe, May here find truth too. Those that come to see Only a show or two and so agree 10 The play may pass-if they be still and willing, I'll undertake may see away their shilling 12 Richly in two short hours. Only they 13 That come to hear a merry bawdy play, 14 A noise of targets, or to see a fellow 15 In a long motley coat guarded with yellow, 16 Will be deceived. For, gentle hearers, know 17 To rank our chosen truth with such a show As fool and fight is, beside forfeiting 19 Our own brains and the opinion that we bring 20 To make that only true we now intend, 21 Will leave us never an understanding friend. 22 Therefore, for goodness' sake, and as you are known The first and happiest hearers of the town, 24 Be sad, as we would make ye. Think ye see 25 The very persons of our noble story As they were living. Think you see them great, And followed with the general throng and sweat Of thousand friends. Then, in a moment, see How soon this mightiness meets misery. 30 And if you can be merry then, I'll say A man may weep upon his wedding day. * ¥    I.1 Enter the Duke of Norfolk at one door; at the other, the Duke of Buckingham and the Lord Abergavenny. buckingham Good morrow and well met. How have ye done Since last we saw in France? norfolk      I thank your grace, Healthful, and ever since a fresh admirer 3 Of what I saw there. 4 buckingham      An untimely ague Stayed me a prisoner in my chamber when Those suns of glory, those two lights of men, 6 Met in the vale of Andren. 7 norfolk      'Twixt Guynes and Arde. I was then present, saw them salute on horseback, Beheld them when they lighted, how they clung 9 In their embracement, as they grew together; 10 Which had they, what four throned ones could have weighed 11 Such a compounded one? buckingham      All the whole time I was my chamber's prisoner. norfolk      Then you lost The view of earthly glory. Men might say Till this time pomp was single, but now married 15 To one above itself. Each following day Became the next day's master, till the last 17 Made former wonders, its. Today the French, 18 All clinquant, all in gold, like heathen gods 19 Shone down the English; and tomorrow they 20 Made Britain India: every man that stood 21 Showed like a mine. Their dwarfish pages were 22 As cherubins, all gilt. The madams too, 23 Not used to toil, did almost sweat to bear The pride upon them, that their very labor 25 Was to them as a painting. Now this masque 26 Was cried incomparable; and th' ensuing night 27 Made it a fool and beggar. The two kings, Equal in luster, were now best, now worst, As presence did present them: him in eye 30 Still him in praise; and being present both, 'Twas said they saw but one, and no discerner 32 Durst wag his tongue in censure. When these suns 33 (For so they phrase 'em) by their heralds challenged 34 The noble spirits to arms, they did perform Beyond thought's compass, that former fabulous story, 36 Being now seen possible enough, got credit, That Bevis was believed. 38 buckingham      O you go far. norfolk As I belong to worship and affect 39 In honor honesty, the tract of ev'ry thing 40 Would by a good discourser lose some life 41 Which action's self was tongue to. All was royal. To the disposing of it nought rebelled; 43 Order gave each thing view. The office did 44 Distinctly his full function. Who did guide, I mean who set the body and the limbs Of this great sport together? As you guess: 47 One, certes, that promises no element 48 In such a business. buckingham      I pray you who, my lord? norfolk All this was ordered by the good discretion 50 Of the right reverend Cardinal of York. 51 buckingham The devil speed him! No man's pie is freed From his ambitious finger. What had he To do in these fierce vanities? I wonder 54 That such a keech can with his very bulk 55 Take up the rays o' th' beneficial sun 56 And keep it from the earth. norfolk      Surely, sir, There's in him stuff that puts him to these ends; For, being not propped by ancestry, whose grace Chalks successors their way, nor called upon 60 For high feats done to th' crown, neither allied 61 To eminent assistants, but spiderlike 62 Out of his self-drawing web, a gives us note, 63 The force of his own merit makes his way, 64 A gift that heaven gives for him, which buys 65 A place next to the king. abergavenny      I cannot tell What heaven hath given him. Let some graver eye Pierce into that; but I can see his pride Peep through each part of him. Whence has he that? If not from hell the devil is a niggard, 70 Or has given all before, and he begins 71 A new hell in himself. buckingham      Why the devil, Upon this French going out, took he upon him 73 (Without the privity o' th' king) t' appoint 74 Who should attend on him? He makes up the file 75 Of all the gentry, for the most part such To whom as great a charge as little honor 77 He meant to lay upon; and his own letter, 78 The honorable board of council out, Must fetch him in he papers. 80 abergavenny      I do know Kinsmen of mine, three at the least, that have By this so sickened their estates that never 82 They shall abound as formerly. buckingham      O many Have broke their backs with laying manors on 'em 84 For this great journey. What did this vanity But minister communication of 86 A most poor issue? norfolk      Grievingly I think The peace between the French and us not values 88 The cost that did conclude it. buckingham      Every man, After the hideous storm that followed, was 90 A thing inspired, and not consulting broke 91 Into a general prophecy: that this tempest, Dashing the garment of this peace, aboded 93 The sudden breach on't. 94 norfolk      Which is budded out; For France hath flawed the league and hath attached 95 Our merchants' goods at Bordeaux. abergavenny      Is it therefore Th' ambassador is silenced? 97 norfolk      Marry is't! abergavenny A proper title of a peace, and purchased 98 At a superfluous rate! 99 buckingham      Why, all this business Our reverend cardinal carried. 100 norfolk      Like it your grace, The state takes notice of the private difference 101 Betwixt you and the cardinal. I advise you (And take it from a heart that wishes towards you Honor and plenteous safety) that you read 104 The cardinal's malice and his potency Together; to consider further, that What his high hatred would effect wants not 107 A minister in his power. You know his nature, 108 That he's revengeful; and I know his sword Hath a sharp edge; it's long, and 't may be said 110 It reaches far, and where 'twill not extend Thither he darts it. Bosom up my counsel; 112 You'll find it wholesome. Lo where comes that rock That I advise your shunning. 114 Enter Cardinal Wolsey, the purse borne before him, certain of the Guard, and two Secretaries with papers. The Cardinal in his passage fixeth his eye on Buckingham, and Buckingham on him, both full of disdain. wolsey The Duke of Buckingham's surveyor, ha? 115 Where's his examination? 116 first secretary      Here, so please you. wolsey Is he in person ready? first secretary      Ay, please your grace. wolsey Well, we shall then know more, and Buckingham Shall lessen this big look.Exeunt Cardinal and his train. 119 buckingham This butcher's cur is venom-mouthed, and I 120 Have not the power to muzzle him; therefore best Not wake him in his slumber. A beggar's book 122 Outworths a noble's blood. 123 norfolk      What, are you chafed? Ask God for temp'rance. That's th' appliance only 124 Which your disease requires. buckingham      I read in's looks Matter against me, and his eye reviled Me as his abject object. At this instant He bores me with some trick. He's gone to th' king. 128 I'll follow and outstare him. norfolk      Stay, my lord, And let your reason with your choler question 130 What 'tis you go about. To climb steep hills Requires slow pace at first. Anger is like A full hot horse, who being allowed his way, Self-mettle tires him. Not a man in England 134 Can advise me like you. Be to yourself As you would to your friend. buckingham      I'll to the king And from a mouth of honor quite cry down This Ipswich fellow's insolence, or proclaim 138 There's difference in no persons. 139 norfolk      Be advised. Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot 140 That it do singe yourself. We may outrun By violent swiftness that which we run at, And lose by overrunning. Know you not The fire that mounts the liquor till't run o'er 144 In seeming to augment it wastes it? Be advised. I say again there is no English soul More stronger to direct you than yourself, If with the sap of reason you would quench, Or but allay the fire of passion. 149 buckingham      Sir, I am thankful to you, and I'll go along 150 By your prescription. But this top-proud fellow- 151 Whom from the flow of gall I name not, but 152 From sincere motions-by intelligence, 153 And proofs as clear as founts in July when We see each grain of gravel, I do know To be corrupt and treasonous. norfolk      Say not treasonous. buckingham To th' king I'll say't and make my vouch as strong 157 As shore of rock. Attend. This holy fox, Or wolf, or both (for he is equal rav'nous As he is subtile, and as prone to mischief 160 As able to perform't), his mind and place 161 Infecting one another, yea reciprocally, Only to show his pomp as well in France As here at home, suggests the king our master 164 To this last costly treaty; th' interview That swallowed so much treasure and like a glass Did break i' th' wrenching. 167 norfolk      Faith, and so it did. buckingham Pray give me favor, sir. This cunning cardinal The articles o' th' combination drew 169 As himself pleased; and they were ratified 170 As he cried "Thus let be," to as much end As give a crutch to th' dead. But our count-cardinal 172 Has done this, and 'tis well; for worthy Wolsey (Who cannot err) he did it. Now this follows (Which, as I take it, is a kind of puppy To th' old dam, treason), Charles the emperor, 176 Under pretense to see the queen his aunt (For 'twas indeed his color, but he came 178 To whisper Wolsey), here makes visitation. His fears were that the interview betwixt 180 England and France might through their amity Breed him some prejudice, for from this league 182 Peeped harms that menaced him: privily Deals with our cardinal, and, as I trow, 184 Which I do well; for I am sure the emperor Paid ere he promised, whereby his suit was granted Ere it was asked; but when the way was made, And paved with gold, the emperor thus desired, That he would please to alter the king's course And break the foresaid peace. Let the king know 190 (As soon he shall by me) that thus the cardinal Does buy and sell his honor as he pleases, And for his own advantage. norfolk      I am sorry To hear this of him, and could wish he were Something mistaken in't. 195 buckingham      No, not a syllable. I do pronounce him in that very shape 196 He shall appear in proof. 197 Enter Brandon, a Sergeant at Arms before him, and two or three of the Guard. brandon Your office, sergeant; execute it. sergeant      Sir, My lord the Duke of Buckingham, and Earl Of Hereford, Stafford, and Northampton, I 200 Arrest thee of high treason, in the name Of our most sovereign king. 202 buckingham      Lo you, my lord, The net has fall'n upon me! I shall perish Under device and practice. 204 brandon      I am sorry To see you ta'en from liberty, to look on 205 The business present. 'Tis his highness' pleasure You shall to th' Tower. buckingham      It will help me nothing To plead mine innocence, for that dye is on me Which makes my whit'st part black. The will of heav'n Be done in this and all things! I obey. 210 O my Lord Aberga'ny, fare you well! brandon Nay, he must bear you company. [To Abergavenny]    The king Is pleased you shall to th' Tower till you know How he determines further. abergavenny      As the duke said, The will of heaven be done, and the king's pleasure By me obeyed! brandon      Here is a warrant from The king t' attach Lord Montacute and the bodies 217 Of the duke's confessor, John de la Car, One Gilbert Perk, his chancellor- buckingham      So, so! These are the limbs o' th' plot. No more, I hope. 220 brandon A monk o' th' Chartreux. buckingham      O, Michael Hopkins? brandon      He. buckingham My surveyor is false. The o'ergreat cardinal Hath showed him gold; my life is spanned already. 223 I am the shadow of poor Buckingham, Whose figure even this instant cloud puts on 225 By dark'ning my clear sun. My lord, farewell.Exeunt. * ¥    I.2 Cornets. Enter King Henry, leaning on the Cardinal's shoulder, the Nobles, [the Cardinal's Secretary,] and Sir Thomas Lovell. The Cardinal places himself under the King's feet on his right side. king My life itself, and the best heart of it, 1 Thanks you for this great care. I stood i' th' level 2 Of a full-charged confederacy, and give thanks 3 To you that choked it. Let be called before us That gentleman of Buckingham's; in person I'll hear him his confessions justify, 6 And point by point the treasons of his master He shall again relate. 8 A noise within, crying "Room for the Queen!" Enter the Queen, ushered by the Duke of Norfolk, and Suffolk. She kneels. [The] King riseth from his state, takes her up, kisses and placeth her by him. Excerpted from Henry VIII by William Shakespeare, Peter Holland All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Editors' Preface Shakespeare's
Henry VIII Reading
Shakespeare's Language
Henry VIII Shakespeare's Life
Shakespeare's Theater
The Publication of Shakespeare's Plays
An Introduction to This Text
Henry VIII Text of the Play with Commentary Longer
Notes Textual
Notes Appendix on Authorship
Henry VIII:A Modern PerspectivebyBarbara A. Mowat
Further Reading Key to Famous Lines and Phrases