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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Has The Shakespeare Sonnet Dedication Mystery Been Solved?

It seems that one of the mysteries about Shakespeare’s sonnets may have been solved.

In 1609, the sonnets were printed by George Eid for the publisher Thomas Thorpe. On the dedication page, T.T. (Thomas Thorpe) wrote a dedication to a mysterious Mr W.H. 

There has been a great deal of speculation about the identity of Mr W.H. Was it William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, or was it perhaps the initials of Henry Wriothesley, switched to mask his identity? 

Well, an American researcher, Geoffrey Cavenay has proposed a very persuasive solution. He proposes that the initials were of the book publisher named William Holme.

Here is a great article about this theory:

I like this theory. I appeals to me because it is based on the local historical context in which the sonnets were published. Instead of trying to find some deeper meaning or significance in the dedication, all it seems to be is a dedication from one friend to another, from one publisher to another.

This is the same kind of method when I research Shakespeare and his plays. Instead of trying to divine the meaning of Shakespeare’s plays from the inside out, by reading them for clues to his life and times, it is far better to go from the outside in. By looking at the historical context and people Shakespeare knew, the plays take on entirely different and new meaning.

It is exciting to think that we live in a day and age when there is still so much to explore and discover and solve.


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