Sonnets to Sundry Notes of Music

Making Shakespeare -  Faking Shakespeare

#26 Sonnets to Sundry Notes of Music (“1599” but printed in 1709)

Shakespeare’s Sonnets were first published in 1609—yet this book claims to be a “lost” edition of the complete sonnet sequence printed a decade earlier in 1599. A book of poetry attributed to “W. Shakespeare” was indeed published in 1599, but it was The Passionate Pilgrim, printed by William Jaggard, and that book contained a page that looks similar to the one shown here. We now know that Shakespeare only wrote a few of the poems included in The Passionate Pilgrim, but it was reprinted as part of the Shakespeare canon through the eighteenth century. The pages in this “1599” volume once formed part of a book that was actually printed in 1709. One early owner broke apart the book, taking the “1599” page from the end of the book, and attaching the sonnets from the beginning of the volume to it. The small hole at the bottom of the page reveals that the page signature has been scratched out, in order to hide the deception. This book is an ingenious attempt to “discover” (that is, to fake) a valuable new addition to the Shakespeare canon.

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