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Shake-speares sonnets.
1609

Special Collections 10739, title page

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Special Collections 10739, title page
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© Copyright of the University of Manchester 2015.

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The University of Manchester has graciously contributed images to Shakespeare Documented under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license. Visitors must contact the University of Manchester's Centre for Heritage Imaging and Collection Care to request high resolution images or additional use at:  uml.chicc@manchester.ac.uk

Copy-specific information
Creator: William Shakespeare
Title: Shake-speares sonnets.: Neuer before imprinted.
Date: At London. By G. Eld for T.T. and are to be solde by Iohn Wright, dwelling at Christ Churchgate. 1609
Repository: University of Manchester Library, Manchester, UK
Call number and opening: Special Collections 10739, title page & sig. L2v
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Item Creator
William Shakespeare
Item Title
Shake-speares sonnets.: Neuer before imprinted.
Item Date
At London. By G. Eld for T.T. and are to be solde by Iohn Wright, dwelling at Christ Churchgate. 1609
Repository
The University of Manchester Library, Manchester, UK
Call Number
Special Collections 10739, title page

Special Collections 10739, signature L2 verso

View Image Assets
Special Collections 10739, signature L2 verso
Click image to enlarge

Institution Rights and Document Citation

 

© Copyright of the University of Manchester 2015.

Terms of use
The University of Manchester has graciously contributed images to Shakespeare Documented under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license. Visitors must contact the University of Manchester's Centre for Heritage Imaging and Collection Care to request high resolution images or additional use at:  uml.chicc@manchester.ac.uk

Copy-specific information
Creator: William Shakespeare
Title: Shake-speares sonnets.: Neuer before imprinted.
Date: At London. By G. Eld for T.T. and are to be solde by Iohn Wright, dwelling at Christ Churchgate. 1609
Repository: University of Manchester Library, Manchester, UK
Call number and opening: Special Collections 10739, title page & sig. L2v
View online bibliographic record

Item Creator
William Shakespeare
Item Title
Shake-speares sonnets.: Neuer before imprinted.
Item Date
At London. By G. Eld for T.T. and are to be solde by Iohn Wright, dwelling at Christ Churchgate. 1609
Repository
The University of Manchester Library, Manchester, UK
Call Number
Special Collections 10739, sig. L2v

Institution Rights and Document Citation

 

© Copyright of the University of Manchester 2015.

Terms of use
The University of Manchester has graciously contributed images to Shakespeare Documented under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license. Visitors must contact the University of Manchester's Centre for Heritage Imaging and Collection Care to request high resolution images or additional use at:  uml.chicc@manchester.ac.uk

Copy-specific information
Creator: William Shakespeare
Title: Shake-speares sonnets.: Neuer before imprinted.
Date: At London. By G. Eld for T.T. and are to be solde by Iohn Wright, dwelling at Christ Churchgate. 1609
Repository: University of Manchester Library, Manchester, UK
Call number and opening: Special Collections 10739, title page & sig. L2v
View online bibliographic record

Shakespeare’s collection of 154 poems in the English sonnet form was first published in 1609.

This late date is surprising for several reasons. Eleven years earlier, in 1598, Francis Meres alluded to Shakespeare’s “sugred Sonnets among his priuate friends, &c.” in his work Palladis Tamia. Meres' reference suggests that at least some of the 154 poems that later appeared in the 1609 quarto were written by 1598, but were only available to those few of his "priuate friends" who were able gain access to them in the more restricted sphere of manuscript circulation. Scholars continue to debate whether some of the 1609 sonnets are the same as noted by Francis Meres in 1598, or whether Shakespeare wrote, or at least actively revised, them for publication in 1609.

Further, two sonnets (138 and 144) appeared in a 1599 anthology called The Passionate Pilgrim, and Eleazar Edgar entered “"certain oyr [other] sonnetes by W.S." into the Stationers' Register on January 3, 1600. No edition seems to have resulted from the entry, though, suggesting that this may have been a "staying entry" intended to prevent other stationers from publishing an edition.

The 1590s were the peak of the sonnet vogue in England: 20 first edition sonnet books appeared between 1590 and 1599. While some sonnet sequences were printed or reprinted during the seventeenth century, by 1609, the form was a bit dated.

Nevertheless, on May 20, 1609, Thomas Thorpe went to Stationers' Hall and "Entred for his copie vnder th[e h]andes of master WILSON and master Lownes Warden a Booke called SHAKESPEARES sonnettes." This first quarto edition appeared later the same year. Given the late date and the seemingly unusual structure of the sequence, some have questioned whether Thorpe might have published the sonnets against Shakespeare's will; however, most scholars agree that there was nothing illegal or unethical about the book's publication.

Thorpe dedicated the volume to “W.H.,” whose identity is still uncertain, as are the identities of the “Fair Youth” to whom the first 126 sonnets are addressed and the “dark lady” of the remaining sonnets.

Thirteen copies of this edition survive. This one is held at the John Rylands Library at The University of Manchester. The title page includes a note recording a purchase price of “5d,” or five pence, which is the same amount Edward Alleyn recorded for his purchase of the Sonnets. There are few other annotations, but at the end of A Lovers Complaint, the last poem in the volume, an early reader has inscribed, "Comendacions to my very kind and approued ffrind B: M:"

Unlike his tremendously popular narrative poems, Venus and Adonis and Lucrece, Shakespeare's sonnets were not printed again during his lifetime, although some copies of this edition did appear with a slightly different title page bearing a variant imprint. In 1640, the sonnets were published in a volume titled Poems: VVwritten by Wil. Shake-speare Gent. (FSL STC 22344) that made them look less like an Elizabethan sequence than like a contemporary printed poetry collection. It was this second edition, rather than the 1609 quarto, that was the basis of the sonnets' reception until Edmund Malone's 1780 edition (FSL PR2752 1778 Suppl. 1 copy 1 Sh.Col.).

 

Modernized/Translated transcriptions

[signature L2v]

Commendations to my very kind and approved Friend, B. M.

Semi-diplomatic transcription

[signature L2v]

Comendacions to my very kind and approued ffrind B: M:

Written by Erin A. McCarthy

Sources
Katherine Duncan-Jones, "Was the 1609 Shake-Speares Sonnets Really Unauthorized?," The Review of English Studies 34.134 (May 1983): 151–71.

Megan Hefferman, "Turning Sonnets into Poems: Textual Affect and John Benson's Metaphysical Shakespeare," Shakespeare Quarterly 64.1 (Spring 2013): 71–98.

Sidney Lee, A Life of William Shakespeare, With Portraits and Facsimiles (London, J. Murray, 1916): 160 n.1.

Arthur F. Marotti, "Shakespeare's Sonnets and the Manuscript Circulation of Texts in Early Modern England," in A Companion to Shakespeare's Sonnets, ed. Michael Schoenfeldt, (Malden and Oxford: Blackwell, 2007): 185–203.

Francis Meres. Palladis Tamia (London: P. Short for C. Burbie, 1598). Early English Books Online, STC (2d edn.) 17834.

 

Last updated June 19, 2017