Richard Tottel’s Songes and Sonettes: The Elizabethan Version

Renaissance English Text Society (RETS), Vol. XXXII

Richard Tottel’s Songes and Sonettes: The Elizabethan Version

Edited by Paul A. Marquis (St. Francis Xavier University )
2007 | 314 + lxx pp. | 978-0-86698-386-0 | Hardcover 6 x 9 in
MRTS 338 | $48 | £29 |

On 5 June 1557, Richard Tottel published a collection of 271 poems composed by noblemen, courtiers, and gentlemen of the early sixteenth century. Eight weeks later, 31 July, he published a revised and expanded version of 280 poems, the arrangement of which became the standard for at least ten further editions in the Elizabethan period. Q2 omitted thirty poems from Q1, added thirty-nine new poems, and in twenty-seven places altered the sequence of poems from the first edition. In eight weeks, as Hyder E. Rollins points out, Songes and Sonettes was ‘completely changed’ and ‘thoroughly revised.’ Q2 was the text most likely read by the many editors, authors, and printers who compiled poetic collections in the Elizabethan period, including Sir Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, and William Shakespeare. Modern readers, however, have had access only to Q1 in Rollins’s Tottel’s Miscellany (1929). This edition, based on Q2, thus provides readers with a copy of a text that has not been readily available since the latter half of the sixteenth century.