#1 Best Version of Hamlet Book by William Shakespeare

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Different versions of Hamlet

Hamlet is one of the most iconic plays in the English language, written by William Shakespeare in the early 17th century. This timeless classic has been performed countless times, adapted into many mediums, and translated into multiple languages.

With so many different editions, it can be difficult to determine which one is the best version of Hamlet book. After careful study, one particular edition stands out as the best – Hamlet: Revised Edition (The Arden Shakespeare Third Series). This edition captures the original text and has helpful notes and comments to help you understand and appreciate the play.

Whether you are a seasoned Shakespeare aficionado or a newcomer to his works, this best version of Hamlet book is a must-read.

best version of Hamlet book by william shakespeare

Why should you read Hamlet?

Reading Hamlet is a beautiful literary experience for anyone who wants to deepen their understanding of Shakespeare’s style of writing, the themes that he explored in his works, and gain the many benefits of reading.

Shakespeare’s writing style is complex and uses rich vocabulary and poetic language, making it both tough and enjoyable to read. If you’re new to Shakespeare, don’t start with Hamlet – it’s one of his longest and most complicated works.

Hamlet dives into important themes that are still relevant today, such as revenge and its consequences. Characters must make tough moral decisions about pursuing revenge. The play also looks at appearance versus reality, as well as the meaning of life and death.

image of William Shakespeare's house who is the author of Hamlet

These powerful themes can spark conversations and debates that help us understand ourselves and the world around us. Reading Hamlet lets us gain new perspectives on these timeless issues and appreciate Shakespeare’s genius even more.

How to choose the best version of Hamlet

When choosing the right version of Hamlet, it is important to pay attention to certain elements. The language used should be easy to understand and make the play more enjoyable and understandable. It is also important to make sure that the version is true to the original text so that you can get the same experience that Shakespeare intended.

To make the reading experience even better, the edition should include annotations and commentary from experts. These notes should provide information and explain difficult words and parts of the story.

To find the best edition of Hamlet, readers should look for a version with clear language, staying true to the original, annotations, and commentary. That way, you can get the most out of your reading experience.

multiple black and white photos collage of the best version of Hamlet's book by William Shakespeare

Best version of Hamlet book

The Arden Shakespeare is the best edition of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It is known for its thorough scholarship and critical annotations. This edition offers insight into the text, language, and context in which the play was written. It is widely recognized by scholars and theater professionals as the standard critical edition.

Other editions, such as Oxford Shakespeare, The Cambridge Shakespeare, and The Norton Shakespeare, have their own merits, but they don’t have the same level of critical analysis or annotation as Arden Shakespeare. Additionally, The Arden Shakespeare includes multiple introductions and perspectives, giving a complete understanding of the play.

Overall, The Arden Shakespeare remains the best version of Hamlet because of its in-depth approach to the text and its importance in Shakespearean scholarship.

Here is a list of some notable editions of “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare:

1 | First Folio Edition (1623)

This is the first ever published work of William Shakespeare, printed seven years after he died. It groups his works into three different categories Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies.

2 | Second Folio Edition (1632)

This is the second printed work of William Shakespeare that had about 1,700 changes done to it due to the Inquisition. This is the edition that we have based most modern re-prints on.

3 | Third Folio Edition (1663-1664)

This edition is very similar to the second edition but very rare due to many copies being lost in the Great Fire of London in 1666.

4 | The Cambridge Shakespeare (1921-1966)

oxford shakespearecambridge shakespeare hamlet 1

The series, which has not been available for a long time, is now back in print. Every book includes a detailed and interesting introduction, Shakespeare plays, lots of annotations, and a large glossary.

This third version of Hamlet has a deep look into the play’s culture, words, and theater, as well as its critical ideas and debates, and its past of being acted out and changed. It also has edited commentary notes made for the student reader, giving the best of modern criticism of this amazing tragedy.

4 | The Oxford Shakespeare (1986-2005)

oxford shakespeare hamlet

This is in the top three of the best versions of Shakespeare’s plays and poems. It has a single-page introduction for each work and a biographical introduction, edited by John Jowett, William Montgomery, Gary Taylor, and Stanley Wells.

This version of Hamlet from Oxford offers a completely new text of the play, taking the First Folio from 1623 as its more reliable source. The introduction explains the process of joining different texts to create the version commonly used today and how this changes the original intention of the play.

6 | The Arden Shakespeare (1890s-Present)

arden shakespeare third edtion Hamlet

This edition of Hamlet is the best version with lots of information, a long introduction with pictures, and talks about how it is performed and what it means, making it the best choice for studying the play.

7 | The Norton Shakespeare (1997)

Norton edition hamlet

It is based on the Oxford Edition, giving readers the closest experience to the plays as they were first performed. It has all of Shakespeare’s works, plus info about his world, life, and art, extra documents, and a timeline.

This Norton Edition of Hamlet includes the Second Quarto text edited by Robert S. Miola as well. It has footnotes, headnotes, and introductory materials. There are 18 illustrations from 1604 to 2008, 3 of which are new. There is also an Actors’ Gallery with reflections on major productions, 17 critical interpretations, 15 reflections on Hamlet from various sources, and a bibliography of print and online resources.

8 | The Pelican Shakespeare (1946-2002)

pelican Shakespeare penguin classics hamlet

The Penguin Classics edition of Hamlet is a great book! It includes a detailed introduction, an accurately edited text, notes on the same page, and glossaries.

The best version of Hamlet book

Hamlet is seen as one of William Shakespeare’s best works and a key part of English literature. It is a timeless story that looks at themes of revenge, death, and insanity, making it a meaningful and stimulating read even in today’s times.

After looking at the different editions of Hamlet, it’s clear that The Arden Shakespeare is the best. It has a complete look at the text, thorough scholarship, and helpful notes, so it’s the top pick for everyone from readers to scholars to theatre experts.

For those wanting to learn more about Hamlet, The Arden Shakespeare is the best place to start. It offers an in-depth look at the play, including its themes. To get an even better understanding, you can attend a stage production of the play or read other critical works about it.

Movies based on Hamlet

There have been tons of movies based on Shakespeare’s story Hamlet. It has been adapted over fifty times making it one of the most popular plays to hit the big screen. These are the best film versions of Hamlet that you need to watch.

1 | Hamlet, 1948

This is seen as one of the most successful Hamlet movies ever produced and even won Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Actor.

2 | Hamlet, 1996

The director Kenneth Branagh used the full text of Hamlet in his reproduction and is well known to be the most accurate modern adaptation of Hamlet.

3 | Hamlet, 2000

This film version of Hamlet does a great job of transporting this play into the modern world. The script is not at all the same as the original Hamlet, but it stays true to the themes and feelings evoked from the original Hamlet play.


What is the best way to read Hamlet?

If you are looking to start reading Hamlet, then I would suggest you follow these steps:
1. Read the book synopsis. I love this one from SparkNotes.
2. Pick the version of Hamlet that you want to read
3. Read carefully and take lots of notes
4. Watch a movie adaptation
5. Read the play again
6. Watch it live on stage
7. Read or listen to an analysis of the book. I love these two resources below!
Hamlet What Happens in Hamlet 3rd Edition by J. Dover Wilson
Folger Shakespeare Library: Shakespeare Unlimited Podcast

Why are there 3 different versions of Hamlet?

There are three versions of the play Hamlet: Q1 (1603), Q2 (1604), and F1 (1623). Each version has special lines and passages not found in the others.

What is the best edition of Shakespeare?

Cambridge, Oxford, and Arden are the most highly recommend Shakesphere editions.

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