Happy Publication Day, Shakespeare's Sonnets...
Almost four centuries ago, readers read lines like “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” for the first time – possibly in pirated form!
Washington State University's Michael Delahoyde writes: "Shakespeare's sonnets were published in 1609, no doubt without authorization, by the unsavory Thomas Thorpe (1580-1614), described as 'a publishing understrapper of piratical habits' who 'hung about scrivener's shops' in order to pinch manuscripts."
Other scholars argue that – due to the poems' content and organizational structure – the Bard must have given this publication his approval.
Whether through thievery or consent, the first editon was released on May 20, 1609, and the sonnets have become beloved works of poetry in the over 400 years since their initial release.
If you'd like to read a definitely-legal version of the sonnets, head to Hekman's 5th floor to find a variety of modern editions and commentaries. Or, enjoy the famous Sonnet 18, which contains imagery reminiscent of Michigan springs: "rough winds to shake the darling buds of May!"
(Submitted by Courtney Zonnefeld, Writing major and student worker--and soon to be graduate!)