William Shakespeare Sonnets

William Shakespeare

The Sonnets of William Shakespeare
  • What is a sonnet?
  • How many sonnets did William Shakespeare write?
  • What were the themes of the Sonnets?
  • Dedications? Payments?
  • What are the most popular sonnets?
  • Interesting information about the Sonnets of Shakespeare

William Shakespeare Sonnets

WHAT ARE SONNETS?

  • Sonnets are fourteen-line lyrical poems
  • This form of poetry originated in Italy
  • They were introduced to England during the Tudor era by Sir Thomas Wyatt

THE AUTHORSHIP OF THE SONNETS

  • There is no documented evidence recording of when the sonnets were all written
  • Therefore there is some doubt as to their true authorship!
  • It is, however, certain that Shakespeare had written some of the sonnets as in 1598 a certain Francis Meres made reference to Shakespeare as "his sugared sonnets among his private friends."
  • Meres appears to be criticising Shakespeare for fawning to his potential patrons

THE THEMES OF THE SONNETS

  • The themes of the Sonnets are about love
  • They appear to be dedicated to a handsome boy and a rival poet together with a mysterious and aloof "dark" lady that they both love
  • The sonnets are numbered and fall into three categories:
    • Sonnets 1 to 126 are addressed to or concern a young man
    • Sonnets 127-152 are addressed to or concern a dark lady
    • Sonnets 153-154 are free adaptations of two classical Greek poems
  • The Sonnets can be accessed in full by clicking the following link:
THE PUBLICATION OF THE SONNETS BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
  • His collection of Sonnets were published in a book called "a Booke called Shakespeare's sonnettes".
  • The Sonnets appeared, without Shakespeare's permission, in 1609
  • The 1609 quarto, entitled Shake­speares Sonnets, was published by Thomas Thorpe on May 20, 1609
  • Thomas Thorpe was granted a license to publish "a Booke called Shakespeare's sonnettes" and this entry is in the Stationer's Register
  • Thorpe appeared to be 'cashing-in' on Shakespeare's name!

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