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Venus and Adonis
Printed as 1602, possibly
1607
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Arch. G f.3 (2), title page

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Arch. G f.3 (2), title page
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The Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, has graciously contributed images of materials in its collections to Shakespeare Documented under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence. Images used within the scope of these terms should cite the Bodleian Libraries as the source.  For any use outside the scope of these terms, visitors should contact Bodleian Libraries Imaging Services at imaging@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

Copy-specific information
Creator: William Shakespeare
Title: Venus and Adonis [by W. Shakespeare].
Date: Lond. [F. Raworth] for W. Leake, 1602 [really 1607?] 
Repository: Bodleian Library, Oxford University, Oxford, UK
Call number and opening: Arch. G f.3 (2), title page & sig. A2r-v
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Item Creator
William Shakespeare
Item Title
Venus and Adonis [by W. Shakespeare].
Item Date
Lond. [F. Raworth] for W. Leake, 1602 [really 1607?]
Repository
Bodleian Library, Oxford University, Oxford, UK
Call Number
Arch. G f.3 (2), title page

Arch. G f.3 (2), signature A2 recto

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Arch. G f.3 (2), signature A2 recto
Click image to enlarge

Institution Rights and Document Citation

Terms of use
The Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, has graciously contributed images of materials in its collections to Shakespeare Documented under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence. Images used within the scope of these terms should cite the Bodleian Libraries as the source.  For any use outside the scope of these terms, visitors should contact Bodleian Libraries Imaging Services at imaging@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

Copy-specific information
Creator: William Shakespeare
Title: Venus and Adonis [by W. Shakespeare].
Date: Lond. [F. Raworth] for W. Leake, 1602 [really 1607?] 
Repository: Bodleian Library, Oxford University, Oxford, UK
Call number and opening: Arch. G f.3 (2), title page & sig. A2r-v
View online bibliographic record

Item Creator
William Shakespeare
Item Title
Venus and Adonis [by W. Shakespeare].
Item Date
Lond. [F. Raworth] for W. Leake, 1602 [really 1607?]
Repository
Bodleian Library, Oxford University, Oxford, UK
Call Number
Arch. G f.3 (2), sig. A2r

Arch. G f.3 (2), signature A2 verso

View Image Assets
Arch. G f.3 (2), signature A2 verso
Click image to enlarge

Institution Rights and Document Citation

Terms of use
The Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, has graciously contributed images of materials in its collections to Shakespeare Documented under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence. Images used within the scope of these terms should cite the Bodleian Libraries as the source.  For any use outside the scope of these terms, visitors should contact Bodleian Libraries Imaging Services at imaging@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

Copy-specific information
Creator: William Shakespeare
Title: Venus and Adonis [by W. Shakespeare].
Date: Lond. [F. Raworth] for W. Leake, 1602 [really 1607?] 
Repository: Bodleian Library, Oxford University, Oxford, UK
Call number and opening: Arch. G f.3 (2), title page & sig. A2r-v
View online bibliographic record

Item Creator
William Shakespeare
Item Title
Venus and Adonis [by W. Shakespeare].
Item Date
Lond. [F. Raworth] for W. Leake, 1602 [really 1607?]
Repository
Bodleian Library, Oxford University, Oxford, UK
Call Number
Arch. G f.3 (2), sig. A2v

Institution Rights and Document Citation

Terms of use
The Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, has graciously contributed images of materials in its collections to Shakespeare Documented under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence. Images used within the scope of these terms should cite the Bodleian Libraries as the source.  For any use outside the scope of these terms, visitors should contact Bodleian Libraries Imaging Services at imaging@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

Copy-specific information
Creator: William Shakespeare
Title: Venus and Adonis [by W. Shakespeare].
Date: Lond. [F. Raworth] for W. Leake, 1602 [really 1607?] 
Repository: Bodleian Library, Oxford University, Oxford, UK
Call number and opening: Arch. G f.3 (2), title page & sig. A2r-v
View online bibliographic record

The title page of the eighth edition of Venus and Adonis claims that it was printed in 1602 by William Leake, who had acquired the rights to Venus and Adonis in 1596. However, it was printed illegally in 1607 by Robert Raworth.

On March 31, 1606, Raworth’s apprenticeship ended and he was “freed,” or permitted to go into business for himself. Although he was not yet entitled to do so under Company regulations, he purchased a printing shop jointly with the compositor John Monger. The Company seems to have turned a blind eye on this misdeed, but it was less forgiving when Leake complained that Raworth had printed Venus and Adonis illegally. A 1607 note in the Register records that Raworth was “supprest for printing anothers Copy.” To make this pirated edition look convincing, Raworth even used Leake’s device, which Leake had lent to Raworth when the latter was printing Henry Smith’s Sermons. Raworth’s career spanned 34 years, but during this time he was repeatedly barred from printing for years at a time because of his frequent involvement with questionable and sometimes illegal printing ventures.

Although Shakespeare is now known primarily as a playwright, in his own time he was equally revered as the author of Venus and Adonisfirst printed in 1593, and Lucrece, his two sensationally successful Ovidian narrative poems. Venus and Adonis appeared in more printed editions than any other work of vernacular poetry in his lifetime, and was published twice as many times as his most successful play, Henry IV Part 1

The Bodleian owns the only known surviving copy of this edition. It was part of a bequest from seventeenth-century author Robert Burton, who signed the title page and added a note that the poem was “by Wil. Shake-Spear.” Had Burton not donated this copy, it is possible that we would only know about this pirated edition through the Stationers’ Company records.

To learn more about the plot and early printing history of Venus and Adonis, please visit the Folger's Shakespeare's Works; to read a modernized edition of the poem, see Folger Digital Texts.

 

Written by Erin A. McCarthy

Sources
Edward W. Arber, ed., A Transcript of the Registers of the Company of Stationers of London: 1554–1600 A.D. 5 vols. 1875–94. (Reprint, Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1967).


Peter W.M. Blayney, The Texts of King Lear and Their Origins, vol. 1. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007).

Bodleian Libraries, “Venus and Adonis.” Marks of Genius. <http://genius.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/exhibits/browse/venus-and-adonis/> (accessed 5 November 2015).

Fredson Bowers, ed., The Dramatic Works in the Beaumont and Fletcher Canon, vol. 1. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1966. Reprint 2008).

Lukas Erne, Shakespeare and the Book Trade. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

Harry Farr, “Notes on Shakespeare’s Printers and Publishers with Special Reference to the Poems and Hamlet.” The Library, 4th series, 3.4 (March 1923): 225–60.

William A. Jackson, Records of the Court of the Stationers’ Company: 1602–1640. (London: Bibliographical Society, 1957).

“Petition of Robert Raworth, printer, to Archbishop Laud.” [undated] [1637 ?]. MS Secretaries of State: State Papers Domestic, Charles I. SP 16/376 f.25. The National Archives of the UK. State Papers Online. Web. (accessed 7 November 2015)

Peter Stallybrass and Roger Chartier, “Reading and Authorship: The Circulation of Shakespeare 1590–1619.” in A Concise Companion to Shakespeare and the Text. (Malden and Oxford: John Wiley & Sons, 2008. 35–56).

Last updated June 19, 2017