Henry IV

Shakespeare Reading Group: Henry IV, Part 1

Wednesday, January 15, 2020 - 6:00pm to 7:15pm
Wednesday, January 22, 2020 - 6:00pm to 7:15pm
Wednesday, January 29, 2020 - 6:00pm to 7:15pm
Wednesday, February 5, 2020 - 6:00pm to 7:15pm
Wednesday, February 12, 2020 - 6:00pm to 7:15pm
Wednesday, February 19, 2020 - 6:00pm to 7:15pm
Wednesday, February 26, 2020 - 6:00pm to 7:15pm
  • Conference Room - Administration Wing
A community reading and discussion of William Shakespeare's history play, Henry IV, Part 1


Led by William Shakespeare aficionado Carl Steidtmann, this seven-week reading group is for both first-time and experienced Shakespeare readers. As 75-minute participatory discussions, this group is for anyone who might like to do some reading aloud, acting or presenting. The overall emphasis is on enjoyment of Henry IV, Part 1 as the group discusses the play, reads brief excerpts together, studies a theatrical presentation, and learns about the playwright and his world.

About Henry IV, Part 1

Henry IV, Part 1 culminates in the battle of Shrewsbury between the king's army and rebels seeking his crown. The dispute begins when Hotspur, the son of Northumberland, breaks with the king over the fate of his brother-in-law, Mortimer, a Welsh prisoner. Hotspur, Northumberland, and Hotspur's uncle Worcester plan to take the throne, later allying with Mortimer and a Welsh leader, Glendower. 

As that conflict develops, Prince Hal—Henry IV's son and heir—carouses in a tavern and plots to trick the roguish Sir John Falstaff and his henchmen, who are planning a highway robbery. Hal and a companion will rob them of their loot—then wait for Falstaff's lying boasts. The trick succeeds, but Prince Hal is summoned to war.

In the war, Hal saves his father’s life and then kills Hotspur, actions that help to redeem his bad reputation. Falstaff, meanwhile, cheats his soldiers, whom he leads to slaughter, and takes credit for Hotspur’s death.

Henry IV, Part 1 was first published in a quarto in 1598. There is only an 8-page fragment of a single copy of its first printing (Q0, now held at and digitized by the Folger Shakespeare Library), although complete copies of an edition printed later the same year (Q1) survive. Q1 is the basis for the five quartos that follow—this was a very popular play. The play was included in the 1623 First Folio in a text that was based on Q5, although it introduced act and scene divisions and changed some stage directions. Most modern editions, including the Folger edition, follow Q1 for their text.
Courtesy of Folger Shakespeare Library

About Carl Steidtmann

Carl Steidtmann

After spending 35 years as a professional economist, Carl Steidtmann retired to pursue his youthful passions of history and Shakespeare. After three pilgrimages to Stratford-on Avon and five years participating in Sally Frostic’s annual Shakespeare reading group at the library, he took over the teaching of this discussion in 2019.




“Were't not for laughing, I should pity him.”
William Shakespeare, King Henry IV, Part 1

Want to join the Henry IV, Part 1 reading group?

The workshop is limited to 30 participants.

The Library will provide copies of Henry IV, Part 1 on loan to everyone. Shakespeare Reading Group participants are asked to commit to the reading and attend most of the sessions. Register online from the link above, or call Adult Programs Coordinator Jennie Lay at 970.879.0240x317.