One of the Most Celebrated and Most Important Contemporary Anthologies of Elizabethan Poetry. With 91 Extracts from Shakespeare including passages from Romeo & Juliet

Shakespeare, William (1564-1616); Marlowe, Christopher (1564-1593); Chapman, George (1559-1634); Spenser, Edmund (c.1552-1599), Jonson, Benjamin (circa 1572-1637); et al.; Allott, Robert (fl. 1600), compiler

Englands Parnassus, or, The choysest flowers of our moderne poets, with their poeticall comparisons. Descriptions of bewties, personages, castles, pallaces, mountaines, groues, seas, springs, riuers, &c. Whereunto are annexed other various discourses both pleasaunt and profitable.

London: For N[icholas] L[ing]. C[uthbert] B[urby]. and T[homas] H[ayes], 1600


Octavo: 15 x 9.2 cm. [12], 494 [i.e. 510] pp. Collation: A-Z8, Aa-Kk8 (lacking blank leaves A1, A2, and Kk8)

FIRST EDITION, the issue with the dedication leaf to Thomas Mounson signed R.A.

Bound in 17th c. blind-ruled sheepskin. A very nice, complete copy with just a little soiling to a few leaves. With an intricate woodcut device on the title page.

“This volume is a compilation of quotations of various lengths, generally with sources noted but not always accurately, taken from the poetical works of some fifty Elizabethan writers. There are included 91 genuine extracts from Shakespeare’s works, mostly (63) derived from ‘Venus and Adonis’ and ‘Lucrece’ but all from plays or poems that had been printed before 1600.”(Pforzheimer)

“Of the five Shakespeare plays from which extracts are incorporated in the volume (Love’s Labour’s lost, Henry IV, Part I, Richard II, Richard III, and Romeo & Juliet), Romeo & Juliet is the most heavily represented, signaling the play’s popularity, or perhaps utility, in the period.”(Roberts, Companion to Shakespeare’s Works, The Tragedies)

The extracts are arranged alphabetically under subject-headings, and the author's name is appended in each case. Spenser is quoted 225 times, Shakespeare 91, Daniell 115, Drayton 163, Warner 117, Chapman 83, Ben Jonson 13, and Marlowe 33.

John Payne Collier notes that, in addition to “Venus and Adonis” and “Lucrece”, Shakespeare’s “Loves Labours Lost” is quoted twice, “Henry IV part One” twice, “Richard II” five times, “Richard III” five times, and Romeo and Juliet 11 times.

“[Allott’s ‘Parnassus’] is a large poetical dictionary with 2350 items, a work Moss claims is ‘an attempt to replace the ancient canon of authors and rewrite commonplaces in the language of a new canon of modern poets’ (Moss, 210)… Allott, then, was an important agent in the process of redirecting texts that normally circulated in manuscript and found their resting places in private collections of individual compilers into the more public world of print. The poetical and prose collections for which he was directly responsible and those with which he was otherwise connected represent an important moment of late Elizabethan literary anthologizing that signaled print's growing importance as the medium of literary transmission.”(Marotti, ODNB)

Bibliotheca Anglo-Poetica 1; Grolier, Langland to Wither 3; Hayward 38; Pforzheimer 358; Case, Poetical Miscellanies, 23(a); Bartlett, Shakespeare: Original and Early Editions of the Quartos and Folios, His Source Books, and those Containing Contemporary Notices (Elizabethan Club, Yale), No. 299