For a blog that purports to be all about reading literature in chronological order, the actual date which I assign to a literary work, particularly in the early centuries, tends to be a bit of guesswork by scholars. But now we are coming into a period of time, where thanks to the printing press, we have dates of composition, performance, publication, translation and republication. The poems of Wyatt and Howard were collected and published in Tottel’s Miscellany in 1557, ten years after Howard’s execution and fifteen years after Wyatt’s death. These poems were circulated but never printed during their lifetimes.
And numerous people have weighed in on the order of writing of Shakespeare’s plays; a problem which I will have to face in coming months.
Soooooo, what to do? In the long run, I guess it doesn’t matter all that much but I should make some effort to be consistent. But that ship may have already sailed, and I don’t want to spend time I could be devoting to reading, weighing up the evidence for this or that date. At this time I am leaning towards earliest performance date for plays where such a thing is known, and publication date in the country of the author for novels, poetry and others.
However, my most likely consistency will be inconsistency.
That’s all for now. Stay safe and, like Henry VIII, find happiness in your own inconsistencies 🙂