“Simple truth suppressed”: Shakespeare’s Sonnets

Let’s start with a thought experiment: imagine that we live in a world where the thirteen surviving copies of the 1609 quarto of Shakespeare’s sonnets just didn’t make it. We only know from the Stationers’ Register entry by Thomas Thorpe on May 20th 1609 (“a Booke called SHAKESPEARES sonnettes”) that such a book apparently once existed, and also know from Shakespeare’s contemporary Francis Meres that our playwright wrote “sugared Sonnets among his private friends”. Naturally, we speculate about our loss, and we try to imagine what the sonnets might have been like from our knowledge of the plays.

Here’s some surmise about …

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Citation: Booth, Roy. "Sonnets". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 September 2012 [https://staging.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=1943, accessed 26 February 2024.]

1943 Sonnets 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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