Henry VI, Part I



  • The beginning of Shakespeare's story of Henry VI,first produced in 1592 - 93 in London. The uneven quality of theverse suggests that it was written in collaboration, probably withThomas Nashe (1567 - 1601), Robert Greene (1560 - 92), orboth. Although the play was once generally assumed to be Shakespeare'searliest work for the stage, modern scholars have argued that it waswritten after the plays now known as Henry VI, Parts IIand III in order to capitalize on their success. An abridged versionof the plays was produced in 1963 as part of the highly successful Warsof the Roses cycle adapted by John Barton for the Royal ShakespeareCompany.

    The play begins with news of a French rebellion against Englishrule. The dauphin, with the help of Joan of Arc, is gainingthe upper hand, while in Britain, Richard Plantagenet (later Dukeof York) and Beaufort, Earl of Somerset, are quarrelling as the weakyoung Henry VI desperately tries to make peace. Joan is finally defeated,taken prisoner, and burnt at the stake. Henry signs a truce with theenemy, and the Earl of Suffolk brings back Margaret of Anjou to beHenry's bride.