Shakespeare became famous as a dazzling poet before most people even knew that he wrote plays. His sonnets are the English language’s most extraordinary anatomy of love in all its dimensions–desire and despair, longing and loss, adoration and disgust. To read them is to confront morality and eternity in the same breath. Produced under the editorial supervision of Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen, two of today’s most accomplished Shakespearean scholars, The Sonnets and Other Poems includes all of Shakespeare’s sonnets, the long narrative poems “Venus and Adonis” and “The Rape of Lucrece,” and several other shorter works.
Incorporating definitive texts and authoritative notes from William Shakespeare: Complete Works, this unique volume also includes an expanded Introduction by Jonathan Bate that places the poems in literary and historical context and illuminates their relationship to Shakespeare’s dramatic writing. Also featured are key facts about the individual selections; an index of the first lines of the sonnets; a chronology of Shakespeare’s life and times; and recommendations for further reading.
Ideal for students and general readers alike, this modern and accessible edition sets a new standard in Shakespearean literature for the twenty-first century.
About the Author
William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 1564, and his birth is traditionally celebrated on April 23. The facts of his life, known from surviving documents, are sparse. He was one of eight children born to John Shakespeare, a merchant of some standing in his community. William probably went to the King’s New School in Stratford, but he had no university education. In November 1582, at the age of eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior, who was pregnant with their first child, Susanna. She was born on May 26, 1583. Twins, a boy, Hamnet ( who would die at age eleven), and a girl, Judith, were born in 1585. By 1592 Shakespeare had gone to London working as an actor and already known as a playwright. A rival dramatist, Robert Greene, referred to him as “an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers.” Shakespeare became a principal shareholder and playwright of the successful acting troupe, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men (later under James I, called the King’s Men). In 1599 the Lord Chamberlain’s Men built and occupied the Globe Theater in Southwark near the Thames River. Here many of Shakespeare’s plays were performed by the most famous actors of his time, including Richard Burbage, Will Kempe, and Robert Armin. In addition to his 37 plays, Shakespeare had a hand in others, including Sir Thomas More and The Two Noble Kinsmen, and he wrote poems, including Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. His 154 sonnets were published, probably without his authorization, in 1609. In 1611 or 1612 he gave up his lodgings in London and devoted more and more time to retirement in Stratford, though he continued writing such plays as The Tempest and Henry VII until about 1613. He died on April 23 1616, and was buried in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford. No collected edition of his plays was published during his life-time, but in 1623 two members of his acting company, John Heminges and Henry Condell, put together the great collection now called the First Folio.