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Venus and Adonis
1599
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The Huntington Library has graciously contributed the above images from their collections. Visitors may link to or download these images for personal research or non-commercial publication. As a matter of good scholarly practice and for the benefit of future researchers, we ask that researchers using reproductions of our materials give appropriate credit when quoting from or reproducing an item in the Huntington collections. Images should be captioned with information about the original source, and quotations should be footnoted. For more information about The Huntington's reproduction policy and citation guidelines, please visit their webpages.

Copy-specific information
Creator: William Shakespeare
Title: Venus and Adonis
Date: Imprinted at London : [By P. Short] for William Leake, dwelling in Paules Churchyard at the signe of the Greyhound, 1599
Repository: The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA, USA
Call number and opening: 59000, title page, sig. A2r-A2v
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Item Creator
William Shakespeare
Item Title
Venus and Adonis
Item Date
Imprinted at London : [By P. Short] for William Leake, dwelling in Paules Churchyard at the signe of the Greyhound, 1599
Repository
Huntington Library, San Marino, CA, USA
Call Number
59000, title page

59000, signature A2 recto

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59000, signature A2 recto
Click image to enlarge

Institution Rights and Document Citation

Terms of use
The Huntington Library has graciously contributed the above images from their collections. Visitors may link to or download these images for personal research or non-commercial publication. As a matter of good scholarly practice and for the benefit of future researchers, we ask that researchers using reproductions of our materials give appropriate credit when quoting from or reproducing an item in the Huntington collections. Images should be captioned with information about the original source, and quotations should be footnoted. For more information about The Huntington's reproduction policy and citation guidelines, please visit their webpages.

Copy-specific information
Creator: William Shakespeare
Title: Venus and Adonis
Date: Imprinted at London : [By P. Short] for William Leake, dwelling in Paules Churchyard at the signe of the Greyhound, 1599
Repository: The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA, USA
Call number and opening: 59000, title page, sig. A2r-A2v
View online bibliographic record

 

Item Creator
William Shakespeare
Item Title
Venus and Adonis
Item Date
Imprinted at London : [By P. Short] for William Leake, dwelling in Paules Churchyard at the signe of the Greyhound, 1599
Repository
Huntington Library, San Marino, CA, USA
Call Number
59000, sig. A2r

59000, signature A2 verso

View Image Assets
59000, signature A2 verso
Click image to enlarge

Institution Rights and Document Citation

Terms of use
The Huntington Library has graciously contributed the above images from their collections. Visitors may link to or download these images for personal research or non-commercial publication. As a matter of good scholarly practice and for the benefit of future researchers, we ask that researchers using reproductions of our materials give appropriate credit when quoting from or reproducing an item in the Huntington collections. Images should be captioned with information about the original source, and quotations should be footnoted. For more information about The Huntington's reproduction policy and citation guidelines, please visit their webpages.

Copy-specific information
Creator: William Shakespeare
Title: Venus and Adonis
Date: Imprinted at London : [By P. Short] for William Leake, dwelling in Paules Churchyard at the signe of the Greyhound, 1599
Repository: The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA, USA
Call number and opening: 59000, title page, sig. A2r-A2v
View online bibliographic record

 

Item Creator
William Shakespeare
Item Title
Venus and Adonis
Item Date
Imprinted at London : [By P. Short] for William Leake, dwelling in Paules Churchyard at the signe of the Greyhound, 1599
Repository
Huntington Library, San Marino, CA, USA
Call Number
59000, sig. A2v

Institution Rights and Document Citation

Terms of use
The Huntington Library has graciously contributed the above images from their collections. Visitors may link to or download these images for personal research or non-commercial publication. As a matter of good scholarly practice and for the benefit of future researchers, we ask that researchers using reproductions of our materials give appropriate credit when quoting from or reproducing an item in the Huntington collections. Images should be captioned with information about the original source, and quotations should be footnoted. For more information about The Huntington's reproduction policy and citation guidelines, please visit their webpages.

Copy-specific information
Creator: William Shakespeare
Title: Venus and Adonis
Date: Imprinted at London : [By P. Short] for William Leake, dwelling in Paules Churchyard at the signe of the Greyhound, 1599
Repository: The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA, USA
Call number and opening: 59000, title page, sig. A2r-A2v
View online bibliographic record

 

The fifth edition of Shakespeare’s perennially popular poem Venus and Adonis appeared in 1599. Although it is often known as Q5 (the “Q” designating a “quarto”) it is actually in the octavo format, as were the third and fourth editions. This disparity points to the relative lack of attention given to later editions of the poem, due to the supposition that Shakespeare himself authorized the printing of the first edition.

Although it may not be of value to editors and textual critics, the fifth edition is invaluable for the ways in which it demonstrates Shakespeare’s contemporary reputation as an Ovidian love poet. This edition was printed by Peter Short for the publisher William Leake, who had acquired the rights to the poem on June 25, 1596 from John Harrison. Leake also inherited the location of Harrison’s shop, the White Greyhound. Although Harrison retained that name for his new shop, Leake continued to use the name “Greyhound,” and it is this name that appears in the imprint shown above.

William Leake was also named as the bookseller for The Passionate Pilgrim, the slim collection of poetry published by William Jaggard in 1599 that was attributed to Shakespeare, although he probably wrote just five of its poems. Several of the poems in The Passionate Pilgrim are on the theme of Venus and Adonis, thus capitalizing on Shakespeare’s notorious best-seller. Further, the title refers to the sonnet shared by Romeo and Juliet when they first meet; the second edition  of Romeo and Juliet was also published in 1599. In William Leake’s shop, then, Shakespeare’s renown as an Ovidian poet can be given a local habitation and a name.

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

This is the only known copy of this edition of Venus and Adonis to survive, and is part of the Huntington Library collection. This copy was discovered in Lamport Hall in Northamptonshire in 1867, bound together in a composite volume that also contained The Passionate Pilgrime and Epigrammes and Elegies (ca. 1599), which contained satirical epigrams by Sir John Davies, and ten elegies from Ovid’s Amores translated by Christopher Marlowe (including the elegy from which the Latin motto on the title-page of Venus and Adonis is taken). The volume seems to have been owned by Thomas Isham, a seventeenth-century book collector. Upon its rediscovery, the volume was sold to the Britwell library, and eventually acquired by Huntington in 1919. This remarkable bound volume preserves the perceptive actions of an early modern customer, collector, and reader who was clearly interested in the Ovidian poetry of the 1590s.

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 Adam G. Hooks

Sources
Adam G. Hooks, Selling Shakespeare: Biography, Bibliography, and the Book Trade (Cambridge University Press, 2016).

Jeffrey Todd Knight, Bound to Read: Compilations, Collections, and the Making of Renaissance Literature (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013).
 

Last updated June 19, 2017