Shakespeare’s Sonnets

…and the Thomas More manuscript

Jonathan Bate will lead a half-day session on Shakespeare’s Sonnets, with a brief excursion on the Thomas More manuscript. Alas, we have only one surviving manuscript by Shakespeare: his contribution to the multi-authored play of Sir Thomas More. We will begin with a close reading of this, to get a sense of Shakespeare’s compositional process. We will then explore the evolution of the Sonnets, focusing particular on those that exist in different versions: as well as the famous gathering of 154 sonnets in the 1609 edition, a couple appeared in his play Love’s Labour’s Lost and some in a collection called The Passionate Pilgrim; a couple of others survive, in fascinatingly varied versions, in manuscripts copied by early seventeenth-century poetry lovers. We will also see what happened to the Sonnets when they were reprinted in 1640 with titles for each poem.

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