Originally posted on University of Glasgow Library:
Richard Stonley (1519 or 20-1600) boasts an interesting literary claim to fame: his acquisition of a newly printed copy of Venus and Adonis on 12th June 1593 makes him the earliest known purchaser of any Shakespeare work. We are fortunate to know this – and a lot more about Stonley’s library and purchasing habits besides – due to the survival of some fascinating Stonley documents, several of which are preserved in the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC. Additionally, a remarkable inventory of all the books and belongings from Stonley’s London home, compiled in 1597, survives at the National Archives at Kew. This unusual document was created after he became embroiled in a scandal and was locked up in the Fleet prison.
Stonley was one of four Tellers of the Exchequer of Receipt, a senior figure in Elizabeth I’s Treasury charged with receiving payments for the Queen’s…
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