Anonymous - Tottel's Miscellany


Anonymous - Tottel's Miscellany

Paperback, 300pp, 9x6ins

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1557 saw the publication of this ground-breaking volume — the first printed anthology of contemporary poetry in English. The book is built on a foundation of two recently-deceased aristocratic poets, Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, who had by their example given English poetry a new direction, above all with the introduction of the Petrarchan sonnet, but also with the invention of blank verse. The anthology was to have an enormous impact, giving witness to the latest developments in English verse for a far bigger public than would have been the norm in the mid-16th century, when manuscripts tended to circulate anonymously and in a small circle of gentlemen. It is likely that, had either Wyatt or Surrey still been alive at the time of publication, they would have forbidden the appearance of their names. As it was, the book appeared, possibly under the editorship of the third named poet in this collection, Nicolas Grimald, and published by Richard Tottel, otherwise best known for his printing of legal texts. The book was evidently a success, as a revised second edition appeared a mere seven weeks after the first, although Grimald's representation was heavily cut back in that edition, and some 36 extra poems, all anonymous, were added. There is no valid explanation for these changes, just as there is only supposition as to the reason why the poems by Surrey and Wyatt were edited for this book — a fact which only became clear in the early 20th century, when the original manuscripts of Wyatt's poems were discovered. The present edition seeks to offer the original book with only minor updates to enable easier reading, but offers the Tottel versions of all the Wyatt and Surrey poems rather than the manuscript versions, as it is important to understand the history of the reception of these poems, and that can only be achieved by having the printed versions as well as the originals, which are now widely available in excellent editions.



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