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Henry VIII

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

Summary of the plot or story
Many believe Henry VIII to be Shakespeare's last play, but others firmly believe that the Bard had little, if anything, to do with its creation. Queen Katherine of Aragon is upright and virtuous and married to King Henry VIII. Henry was a proud and wilful monarch who defies Rome's ban on divorce to marry Ann Bullen (Boleyn).
Cardinal Wolsey the Powerful Lord Chancellor of England and accomplished politician attempts to bend Rome to the king's wishes in the Bullen matter. Later, near death, he repents his unpriestly activity. Katherine is divorced and sent to Kimbolton Castle and Anne marries King Henry VIII to become his queen.

Information provided the play
William Shakespeare never published any of his plays and therefore none of the original manuscripts have survived. Eighteen unauthorised versions of his plays were, however, published during his lifetime in quarto editions by unscrupulous publishers (there were no copyright laws protecting Shakespeare and his works during the Elizabethan era). A collection of his works did not appear until 1623 (a full seven years after Shakespeare's death on April 23, 1616) when two of his fellow actors, John Hemminges and Henry Condell, posthumously recorded his work and published 36 of Williamís plays in the First Folio. Some dates are therefore approximate other dates are substantiated by historical events, records of performances and the dates plays appeared in print.

Date first performed
It is believed that King Henry VIII was first performed between 1612 and 1613. In the Elizabethan era 
there was a huge demand for new entertainment and Henry VIII would have been produced immediately following the completion of the play. During Shakespeare's lifetime the play was also known as "All is True." however there is no evidence as to whether this was a subtitle or the original main title.

Date first printed
It is believed that the script was first printed in 1623 in the First Folio. As William Shakespeare clearly did not want his work published details of the play would have therefore been noted, and often pirated without his consent, following a performance.

The settings
The settings are England including London and Westminster.

Theme of Henry VIII
The play is categorised as a History themed play

Number of words
The number of spoken words in the script, according to the Complete Public Domain Text is 26,146.

Most important characters
The most important characters are:
King Henry VIII, Queen Katherine of Aragon, Cardinal Wolsey and Anne Bullen (Anne Boleyn)

The Cast and Characters
Please follow the link to a list of all the Cast and Characters of Henry IV ( Part 2 ) by William Shakespeare.

Famous Quotes / Quotations
The quotes from Henry VIII include 'No manís pie is freed from his ambitious finger' and 'Press not a falling man too far'. Details of these famous quotes follow, complete with information regarding the Act and the Scene, allowing a quick reference to the section of the play that these quotations can be found in. Please click here for the full text of the script of the play.

"No manís pie is freed from his ambitious finger". (Act I. Scene I)

"Press not a falling man too far!"
(Act III, Scene II).

"To dance attendance on their lordshipsí pleasures."
(Act V, Scene II)

The drama was based on the actual monarch of England and the turbulent events and people who were important in his life. The play concentrates on his first two wives, Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn.

William Shakespeare's Main Source
Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland and The Book of Martyrs by John Foxe (1516-1587) 

Inspiration from the work
The drama and characters in the story have inspired other works such as the movie, Anne of the Thousand Days the film Starring Richard Burton and TV Series, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, starring Keith Michell as Henry. And the classic film about King Henry VIII and his six wives starring Charles Laughton should also be remembered. The King has also been portrayed by the actors Robert Shaw and Charlton Heston.

The Cast and Characters
Click the link to access to a list of all the Cast and Characters of the play by William Shakespeare.

Text - script of Henry VIII, the play by William Shakespeare
Cast and characters in Henry VIII play by William Shakespeare
Index of plays by William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare Site Map
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