By Barbara Mowat and Paul Werstine
Editors of the Folger Shakespeare Library Editions
Venus and Adonis was first printed in 1593 and Lucrece in 1594. “The Phoenix and Turtle” first appeared in 1601 in Robert Chester’s Loves Martyr: or, Rosalins Complaint. The present edition is based directly upon these printings.1 The only other poem that might have been included in this edition is “A Louers Complaint.” It was printed in 1609 at the end of the volume of Shakespeares Sonnets. However, when “A Louers Complaint” was tested by Ward E. Y. Elliott and Robert J. Valenza in their “Glass Slippers and Seven-League Boots: C-Prompted Doubts about Ascribing A Funeral Elegy and A Lover’s Complaint to Shakespeare” (Shakespeare Quarterly 48 : 177–207), its attribution to Shakespeare was called seriously into question. MacD. P. Jackson attempted to refute Elliott and Valenza in “A Lover’s Complaint Revisited” (Shakespeare Studies 32 : 267–94). We do not find Jackson’s case to be persuasive and so have not included “A Louers Complaint” in this collection of poems.
We have edited the texts of the poems included in this edition following the same principles used in the Sonnets. For these editing principles, please see “An Introduction to this Text” for the Sonnets.