A Life of William Shakespeare

By Joseph Quincy Adams | Go to book overview
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SHAKESPEARE, as we have seen, had definitely abandoned the composition of non-dramatic literature; yet just at the turn of the century appeared two volumes of lyrical verse with which his name was associated, though in different ways.

The first bore the title: " The Passionate Pilgrime. By W. Shakespeare. At London. Printed for W. Jaggard, and are to be sold by W. Leake, at the Greyhound in Paules Churchyard. 1599." It is mainly significant as showing the eagerness of publishers to secure something from the pen of the dramatist, and the confidence they had in the potency of his name on the title-page to "vent" a work.1 In all probability Jaggard had come into possession of a small commonplace-book, such as Elizabethan gentlemen were fond of making. From various sources its owner had copied into its blank leaves songs and sonnets -- for the most part amorous -- that pleased him, including two sonnets from Shakespeare's unpublished cycle, and two sonnets from Love's Labour's Lost,2 all four, no doubt, with Shakespeare's name appended; and in addition, verses by Griffin, Barnfield, Marlowe, and others, some with, some perhaps without, the author's name attached. Collections of this character3 frequently fell into the hands of publishers and

The publisher of the first quarto of Othello says: "The author's name is sufficient to vent his work."
Not transcribed from the printed play (unless from the pirated and corrupt first quarto of which no copy is extant), but, apparently, from some manuscript then circulating among gallants.
They were very common; the present writer has two such commonplace-books, with poems by Jonson, Donne, and other well-known writers, and many verses with no names attached.


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A Life of William Shakespeare
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