For over two hundred years, editors were united in their decision to bring together the King Lear texts of the Quarto (1608) and the First Folio (1623) to produce a single text that was the basis for all modern productions. Then in the 1980s a group of influential scholars argued that the two texts represent distinct stages in the life of King Lear, as Shakespeare supposedly revised his play in light of theatrical performance. The two-text theory has since hardened into orthodoxy. Now for the first time in a book-length argument, one of the world's most eminent Shakespeare scholars challenges the two-text theory. At stake is the way Shakespeare's greatest play is read and performed. Sir Brian Vickers demonstrates that the cuts in the Quarto were in fact carried out by the printer because he had underestimated the amount of paper he would need. As for the Folio, Vickers sees no evidence that Shakespeare cut the text in order to alter the balance between characters. These cuts, likely made by the theater company to speed up the action, removed passages essential to the play's moral and emotional structure and are impracticable on the stage.