“Look here upon this picture, and on this … See what a grace was seated on this brow…”

“…Hyperion’s curls; the front of Jove himself; an eye like Mars, to threaten and command … A combination and a form indeed where every god did seem to set his seal to give the world assurance of a man.” – Prince Hamlet, act three, scene four

     First Folio - 1623

First Folio – 1623


Benson's Bogus Edition               1640

Benson’s 1640 Edition of Poems with Sonnets out of order (and merged to form longer poems) so that the Monument to Southampton as an unacknowledged royal prince is disguised — with a few pronouns changed from masculine to feminine … an extension of the Folio effort to steer “Shakespeare” away from the Court and from the true author’s connection to Queen Elizabeth and her Tudor heir to the English throne


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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Ever, live thy fame!

  2. It’s a mask…just like Charlton Ogburn said!

  3. Amazing that they deliberately retained the mask like appearance and then look at the first line:

    This Shadowe is renowned Shakespear’s! Soule of th’ age

    Taking out the exclamation point and reading the first line literally, it implies that Shakespeare had a shadow who was the soul of the age.

    Even keeping the ! suggests that this shadow is Shakespeare’s shadow. I know how the traditionalists read it but in any case it’s as awkward as the mask like picture.

    So now I’m looking at the sonnets that are left out of this edition. Is it true that 18 was omitted? How could a printer forget to include lines like “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” and “…thy eternal summer shall not fade.”

    • Sorry, what I took for exclamation points are actually question marks — even more suspicious!

      • You can try here and get a look all through the book:


        There are eight missing sonnets and offhand I can’t recall which ones they are.

        Of course it’s argued that the question marks and exclamation points were then interchangeable, but I really don’t buy it. To me this is a Jonson production, arranged by him before his death in 1637, and an extension of the folio attempt to turn Shakespeare into a commoner and an actor of Stratford. One of the poems, not by Shakespeare, is an homage to the great author and in the title marks his death as Anno 1616, thereby putting forth the FIRST SPECIFIC link to Stratford (as opposite to Sweet Swan of Avon and Stratford monument of 1623). You will see a drop-down with all the titles on it — fictitious titles. Clearly an attempt to deal with the real 1609 edition of sonnets, which were then underground and would continue so until 1711.

  4. Thanks for the resource. I looked up the eight and all were problematic for the 1640 compiler as they had to do with the fair youth and 19 (also missing) specifically refers to the Phoenix (ie Elizabeth) but I don’t think that they were any more problematic than some of the sonnets that were included. (For the record it was 18,19.43,56,75,76,96,126 per http://www.jstor.org/stable/433004 pg 29.)

    I finally saw “Last Will. & Testament Tonight”. I didn’t realize you were in there so that was nice surprise. Great job (as always.)

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