Essays on Shakespeare's Sonnet

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Larsen: Essays on Shakespeare’s Sonnets 1 Kenneth J. Larsen Essays on Shakespeare’s Sonnets Larsen: Essays on Shakespeare’s Sonnets 2 In memory of another “MR. W. H.,” my “onlie begetter.” Larsen: Essays on Shakespeare’s Sonnets 3 Introduction Shake-speares Sonnets was entered in the Stationers’ Register on Saturday 20 May 1609; the record reads, 20 Maij Thomas Thorpe. Entred for his copie vnder thandes of master Wilson and master Lownes Warden a Booke called Shakespeares sonnettes vjd. The cost of sixpence would have been normal. The volume’s frontispiece bears the date, 1609, and the place, London, and declares forthrightly, “Neuer before Imprinted.” It was printed by George Eld for “T. T.,” evidently the publisher Thomas Thorpe. The volume appeared with two-title pages, one with the imprint of the book-seller, John Wright, and one with that of another, William Aspley. The subsequent dedicatory page is signed, “T. T.,” again Thomas Thorpe. The dedication is solecistic, a trait of Thorpe’s writing, and is addressed to “MR. W. H.,” whose identity has been the subject of debate and acrimony from Ben Jonson onwards. The publication of Shakespeare’s sonnet sequence came late in the piece: by 1609 the vogue of sequences which had flourished in the 1590s and early 1600s in the wake of Sir Philip Sidney’s Astrophil and Stella sequence had passed. Yet some of Shakespeare’s sonnets were written before 1599, because Francis Meres, when pairing a range of accomplished English writers with Latin precursors in 1598, coupled Shakespeare with Ovid and alluded to “his sugred Sonnets among his priuate friends:” As the soule of Euphorbus was thought to liue in Pythagoras: so the sweete wittie soule of Ouid liues in mellifluous & hony-tongued Shakespeare, witnes his Venus and Adonis, his Lucrece, his sugred Sonnets among his priuate friends, &c. 1 As
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