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Analysis: Trivia

Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge

For centuries, readers of Shakespeare's Sonnets have been scratching their heads over the book's dedication, which reads as follows: "To the onlie begetter of / these insuing sonnets Mr. W. H. all happinesse / and that eternitie / promised / by / our ever-living poet / wisheth / the well-wishing / adventurer in / setting / forth." This dedication is then signed T. T. (read the whole thing for yourself here). We know who T.T. is—Thomas Thorpe, the publisher of the sonnets, but who in the world is Mr. W. H.? And is he the same person as the young man who is addressed by the speaker in Sonnets 1-126? Alas, nobody knows. But Shmoop does love a good mystery. (Source)

Many scholars believe that Shakespeare had no intention whatsoever to put these puppies in print. Instead, they think that his publisher, Thomas Thorpe, got his hands on a copy of Big Willy's poems and printed it without permission. Basically, this means that the first edition of the sonnets was bootlegged. Scandalous, right? Even though Shakespeare must have been pretty peeved, we at Shmoop think we all owe Thorpe a big thank you—whether or not this story is true. (Source.)

Most scholars agree that Sonnets 1-126 of Shakespeare 154-sonnet sequence are addressed to a young man. Nobody knows who this young man is, exactly, but many suspect that it was Henry Wriothesley, the 3rd earl of Southampton, who was also Shakespeare's patron. Did you know that this crazy character was also once convicted of treason and sentenced to death? He got off the hook though, and it looks like Shakey's rep wasn't tarnished by their association. (Source.)

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