William Adlington

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William Adlington (fl. 1566) was one among the host of translators that made the Elizabethan era the "golden age of translations". His Englishing of Apuleius' 2nd century CE novel Metamorphoses, better known by its English title The Golden Ass (1566, reprinted 1571, 1582, 1596)[1] was its first appearance in English and has been steadily reprinted into the 20th century.[2] His prose is bold and delightful, though he does not stick as close to his source as a modern translator would be expected to do, in part because he had probably translated from a French edition of the text alongside the original Latin. The book was a favourite source of Shakespeare's.[3] He addressed his dedication to Thomas, Earl of Sussex, from "University College in Oxenford", but so little is known of him that he did not rate a vita in the Dictionary of National Biography. A connection with the Adlington family of Cheshire is unproven, as is his authorship of the 1579 verse tract "A Speciall Remedie against the furious force of Lawlesse Love", which is more likely to have been written by the London schoolmaster William Averell.


  1. ^ Under the title The XI Bookes of the Golden Asse, Conteininge the Metamorphosie of Lucius Apuleius (London 1566).
  2. ^ The Most Pleasant and Delectable Tale of the Marriage of Cupid and Psyche is an excerpt from it.
  3. ^ Borrowings even in the tragedies were demonstrated in detail by John J. M. Tobin, in Kenneth Muir, ed. Shakespeare and the Classical World (Shakespeare Survey 31) Cambridge University Press, 1978, and, for A Midsummer Night's Dream, by James A. S. McPeek, "The Psyche Myth and A Midsummer Night's Dream" Shakespeare Quarterly 23.1 (Winter 1972:69-79). See also Robert H. F. Carver, The Protean Ass: The 'Metamorphoses' of Apuleius from Antiquity to the Renaissance (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).

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