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Valentine Simmes

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Valentine Simmes (fl. 1585 – 1622) was an Elizabethan era and Jacobean era printer; he did business in London, "on Adling Hill near Bainard's Castle at the sign of the White Swan." Simmes has a reputation as one of the better printers of his generation, and was responsible for several quartos of Shakespeare's plays. [See: Early texts of Shakespeare's works.]

Nothing is known of Simmes's early life or personal history. He was active as a printer starting in 1585.


In an eight-year period from 1597 through 1604, Simmes printed nine Shakespearean quartos for various London stationers or booksellers.

For the bookseller Andrew Wise, Simmes printed:

For Wise and William Aspley, Simmes printed:

For Thomas Millington, Simmes printed:

For Nicholas Ling and John Trundell, Simmes printed:

For Matthew Law, Simmes printed:

Also for Nicholas Ling, Simmes printed Q3 of The Taming of a Shrew (1607), the alternative version of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. (Scholars dispute the exact nature of the relationship between the two versions.)[2] And for Thomas Pavier, Simmes printed Q1 of Sir John Oldcastle (1600), a play of the Shakespeare Apocrypha.[3] For "the Widow Newman," Simmes printed the second, 1607 edition of Lawrence Twine's The Pattern of Painful Adventures, one of the sources for Shakespeare's Pericles, Prince of Tyre.

Other drama[edit]

Simmes also printed a range of other significant texts in English Renaissance theatre, including:[4]

— among other works. In Simmes's era, the specialties of printer and bookseller/publisher were usually practised separately, though some individuals, like William Jaggard, functioned in both. Simmes normally kept to the printshop side of the business, though he did occasionally publish too, as with the first quartos of George Chapman's Humorous Day's Mirth and Thomas Dekker's Shoemaker's Holiday.

Other works[edit]

Best known for his printing of plays, Simmes worked on non-dramatic projects as well; he printed Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum (1611) for the bookseller Richard Bonian – a volume of poems by Emilia Lanier, it was one of the very rare books by a woman published in that era.[5] For John Clapham's The History of Great Britain (1606), he was both printer and publisher.


While Simmes is recognized as among the best printers of his generation, a cynic might complain that this is not saying much — that it merely identifies Simmes as the best of a bad lot. Simmes, or his compositors, allowed 69 typographical errors in Richard II, Q1; when they printed Q2 they corrected 14 of these typos, but added 123 new ones.[6]

Apart from his reputation for quality, Simmes "was constantly in trouble for printing unauthorized works, and in 1622 was forbidden to work as a master printer."[7]


  1. ^ This Q2 of 2H6 was the early alternative text, The First Part of the Contention Betwixt the Two Famous Houses of York and Lancaster. Halliday, p. 217.
  2. ^ Halliday, pp. 483–4.
  3. ^ Chambers, Vol. 3, pp. 306–7.
  4. ^ Chambers, Vol. 3, pp. 251, 291, 378, 391, 422; Vol.4, p. 23.
  5. ^ Grossman, p. 1.
  6. ^ Halliday, p. 386.
  7. ^ Halliday, p. 454.


  • Chambers, E. K. The Elizabethan Stage. 4 Volumes, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1923.
  • Ferguson, W. Craig. Valentine Simmes, Stationer: A Bibliographical Study of an Elizabethan Printer and Publisher. Birmingham (UK), 1959; Charlottesville, VA, Bibliographic Society of the University of Virginia, 1968.
  • Grossman, Marshall, ed., Aemilia Lanyer: Gender, Genre, and the Canon. Lexington, KY, University Press of Kentucky, 1998
  • Halliday, F. E. A Shakespeare Companion 1564–1964. Baltimore, Penguin, 1964.

External links[edit]