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In this lively, fascinating account of the publication of Shakespeare's Sonnets, noted biographer Clinton Heylin brings their convoluted history to light, beginning with the first complete appearance of the Sonnets in print in May, 1609. He introduces us to the ''unholy alliance'' involved in this precarious enterprise: Thomas Thorpe, the publisher, a self-described ''well wishing adventurer;'' George Eld, the printer, heavily embroiled in large-scale pirating; William Aspley, the prestigious bookseller, who mysteriously ended his association with Thorpe soon after. Leaving the calamitous world of Elizabethan publishing, Heylin goes on to chart the many editions of the Sonnets through the years and the editorial decisions that led to their present configuration. Passionate, astute, and brilliantly entertaining, the result is a concise and vivid history of perhaps the greatest poetry ever written.
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Augusta Metro Spirit, 9/9 “A breathtaking account of the Sonnets...Heylin offers a stunning look at a literary mystery...They may be some of the greatest love poems of all time, but within the pages of Heylin’s latest exploration readers have the opportunity to learn that the Sonnets themselves are only the beginning of the story.”
Choice, October 2009 issue
“Offers a tantalizing examination of the role of the Stationers’ Company and the perils of copyright ownership in the 17th century...An interesting review of the publication history of Sonnets, from early private circulation of the poems to the present century.”
Magill Book Review, October 2009
“A fascinating, scholarly and thorough history of Shakespeare’s sonnets from 1590 to 2009. Nothing ever written about William Shakespeare and his works is without controversy; nor will this volume escape controversy. Clinton Heylin has taken on one of the most controversial subjects in this stellar, painstaking book."
Reference and Research Book News, November 2009
“This new angle on the sonnets and the background to their publication is intriguing and worth including in any Shakespeare library.”
Midwest Book Review
“Highly entertaining, educational, and recommended reading.”
Kirkus Reviews, 4/15/09
“[Heylin has] done his homework and presents in often frisky language some convincing answers to questions that have perplexed scholars for centuries. Did Shakespeare approve the publication of these intimate poems? Who was the ‘W.H.’ of the dedication? Who were the real-life prototypes for the Dark Lady, the Fair Youth and the Rival Poet? Did he write those last two weak Cupid sonnets? Or ‘A Lover’s Complaint,’ that long boring poem published with the Sonnets? Heylin demonstrates a scholar’s diligence...Will not endear Heylin to academics, but does disperse some smoke while fanning the flames of this fiery debate.”
Clinton Heylin is the author of many books, including Behind the Shades, widely regarded as the definitive biography of Bob Dylan. He lives in Somerset, England.
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