William Smith (poet)

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William Smith (15??-16??) was an English sonneteer, poet, and friend of Edmund Spenser. He participated in The Phoenix Nest (1593), England's Helicon (1600) and published a sonnet sequence Chloris or The Complaint of the passionate despised Shepheard in 1596.


Smith in 1596 published a collection of sonnets, entitled Chloris, or the Complaint of the passionate despised Shepheard, printed by Edmund Bollifant, 1596. The volume opens with two sonnets, inscribed "To the most excellent and learned shepheard, Collin Cloute" (i.e. Spenser), and signed "W. Smith"; in a third sonnet addressed to Spenser at the close of the book Smith calls Spenser his patron. The content consists of 48 sonnets, and a poem in 20 lines, called Corins Dreame of the faire Chloris. One of the sonnets, ‘A Notable Description of the World,’ had been previously published in The Phoenix Nest (1595), there signed "W. S. gentleman". This statement that the 16 line poem A Notable description of the World appears in Chloris or the Complaint of the passionate despised shepheard is totally wrong because it is not to be found there. The correct position is stated by Joseph Ritson in 1802 in Bibliographia Poetica page 336. Wiiliam Smith is not the W S Gent of The Phoenix Nest. See my book WHO IS THE ELIZABETHAN W S GENT for the arguments that the W S Gent of The Phoenix Nest is William Shakespeare and A Notable description of the world is a poem he wrote as a schoolboy probably aged 10 and which was brought to the attention of the Earl Of Leicester as by a bright kid at the local grammar school.Corins Dreame was transferred to England's Helicon (1600 and 1614). The work was reprinted in Edward Arber's English Garner, viii. 171 sqq.[1]


Verse signed "W. S." has sometimes been attributed to Smith, but purely as a matter of conjecture. Cases include commendatory verse for John Grange's Golden Aphroditis, 1577, and Nicholas Breton's Wil of Wit, 1606.[1]

Richard Heber owned a manuscript A New Yeares Guift, or a posie upon certen flowers, described as presented to Mary Sidney by the "author of Chloris" ; it is now in the British Library, MS. Addit. 35186. Plays signed "W. Smith" assigned at some points to Smith were by Wentworth Smith.[1]

The above article on William Smith depends on the authority of Sidney Lee cited below, but Lee is not accurate or reliable. See major correction entered above.


  1. ^ a b c  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1898). "Smith, William (fl.1596)". Dictionary of National Biography 53. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Lawrence A. Sasek (ed.) (1970) The Poems of William Smith. Louisiana State University Press, ISBN 978-0-8071-0926-7.

External links[edit]

Attribution  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainLee, Sidney, ed. (1898). "Smith, William (fl.1596)". Dictionary of National Biography 53. London: Smith, Elder & Co.