The Famous Chronicle of King Edward the First
A quarto edition duly appeared with the date 1593, printed by Abel Jeffes and sold for him by William Barley in Gracechurch Street. Copies of this edition are preserved in the Bodleian Library and the British Museum These editions are composed with tolerable care but representing a very corrupt text. A second edition appeared in 1599.
The play concentrates on the power struggle between Edward I and Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, also glancing at the reign and fall of John Balliol. The play's presentation of Llywelyn's life while in rebellion against Edward is based on the legend of Robin Hood. Although some sympathy is extended to the Welsh the playwright effectively endorses the aim of uniting Britain by force.
Heavily influenced by ballads, the play is rambling and episodic. It has been argued that the text is corrupt and that Peele did not write certain scenes, particularly a (ballad-based) deathbed confession by Queen Eleanor that of all her children, only the last, Edward of Caernarfon, is her husband's.
In 1999, a "retroform" of the play was published, with the dubious scenes removed and the remaining text streamlined. Although this would be considerably easier to stage than the full text, there has to date been no modern production.
In Shakespeare the Player (2000), John Southworth (following the Victorian scholar F. G. Fleay) argued that the actor who had originally portrayed Edward was not, as is commonly supposed, Edward Alleyn, but William Shakespeare.
- King Edward the First by George Peele; Published 1911; Printed for the Malone Society by H. Hart, at Oxford University Press; London; p. v.