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A scene from Henry V

Introduction to the play

Henry V is Shakespeare’s most famous “war play”; it includes the storied English victory over the French at Agincourt. Some of it glorifies war, especially the choruses and Henry’s speeches urging his troops into battle. But we also hear bishops conniving for war to postpone a bill that would tax the church, and soldiers expecting to reap profits from the conflict. Even in the speeches of Henry and his nobles, there are many chilling references to the human cost of war.

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Cover of the Folger Shakespeare edition of Henry V

The Folger Shakespeare

Our bestselling editions of Shakespeare's plays and poems

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once
Or close the wall up with our English dead!

King Henry
Act 3, scene 1, lines 1–3

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers

King Henry
Act 4, scene 3, line 62

Henry V in our collection

A selection of Folger collection items related to Henry V. Find more in our digital image collection

Photograph from Laurence Olivier's movie of Henry V: Olivier as Henry V
One of a set of seven original drawings. By Byam Shaw.
Act 5, scene 2. By F. Pecht; printed by G. Goldberg.
A set design for Act 4, scene 1

Essays and resources from The Folger Shakespeare

Henry V

Learn more about the play, its language, and its history from the experts behind our edition.

About Shakespeare’s Henry V
An introduction to the plot, themes, and characters in the play

Reading Shakespeare’s Language
A guide for understanding Shakespeare’s words, sentences, and wordplay

An Introduction to This Text
A description of the publishing history of the play and our editors’ approach to this edition

Shakespeare and his world

Learn more about Shakespeare, his theater, and his plays from the experts behind our editions.

Shakespeare’s Life
An essay about Shakespeare and the time in which he lived

Shakespeare’s Theater
An essay about what theaters were like during Shakespeare’s career

The Publication of Shakespeare’s Plays
An essay about how Shakespeare’s plays were published

Related blog posts and podcasts

Teaching Henry V

Early printed texts

Henry V was first published as a quarto in 1600 with the title The Chronicle History of Henry the fift (Q1). This version of the play differs substantially from the play we know today: it is much shorter; it is missing entire scenes, including all of the chorus; some scenes are in a different order; and the Duke of Bourbon appears in the Agincourt scenes, rather than the Dauphin. Q1 was reprinted with no substantial changes in 1602 (Q2). It was reprinted again in 1619 (Q3) with some modifications that anticipate the later Folio text, although the source of those changes is unclear (this is one of the “Pavier Quartos” that were printed in 1619 with a false imprint date of 1608). The play was included in the 1623 First Folio (F1) as The Life of Henry the Fift, and this is the version on which most modern editions, including the Folger edition, are based.