Thomas Walkley

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Thomas Walkley (fl. 1618 1658) was a London publisher and bookseller in the early and middle seventeenth century. He is noted for publishing a range of significant texts in English Renaissance drama, "and much other interesting literature." [1]

Floruit, abbreviated fl., Latin for "he/she flourished", denotes a date or period during which a person was known to have been alive or active. In English, the word may also be used as a noun indicating the time when someone "flourished".

English Renaissance theatre theatre of England between 1562 and 1642

English Renaissance theatre—also known as Renaissance English theatre and Elizabethan theatre—refers to the theatre of England between 1562 and 1642.



Walkley became a "freedman" (a full member) of the Stationers Company on 19 January 1618 (all dates new style). His shop was located first at the sign of the Eagle and Child in Britain's Burse, until about 1630; later at the sign of the Flying Horse near York House; and finally at the sign of the Golden Mortar and Pestle between York House and Charring Cross. Walkley struggled financially in his early years, and had trouble paying his printers; but his fortunes improved by the later 1620s, as he benefitted from important political contacts. Yet political fortunes shifted in the turbulent century: in 1649 Walkley got into trouble with the Commonwealth government, which issued a warrant against him for dispensing royalist material from the sons of the late King Charles I, then on the island of Jersey. He was vigorously active in publishing for nearly three decades, though his output slackened after 1645.

Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers London livery company

The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers, usually known as the Stationers' Company, is one of the livery companies of the City of London. The Stationers' Company was formed in 1403; it received a royal charter in 1557. It held a monopoly over the publishing industry and was officially responsible for setting and enforcing regulations until the enactment of the Statute of Anne, also known as the Copyright Act of 1710. Once the company received its charter, “the company’s role was to regulate and discipline the industry, define proper conduct and maintain its own corporate privileges.”

Old Style and New Style dates 16th-century changes in calendar conventions

Old Style (O.S.) and New Style (N.S.) are terms sometimes used with dates to indicate that the calendar convention used at the time described is different from that in use at the time the document was being written. There were two calendar changes in Great Britain and its colonies, which may sometimes complicate matters: the first was to change the start of the year from Lady Day to 1 January; the second was to discard the Julian calendar in favour of the Gregorian calendar. Closely related is the custom of dual dating, where writers gave two consecutive years to reflect differences in the starting date of the year, or to include both the Julian and Gregorian dates.

York House, Strand Former string of mansions on the Strand in London, England

York House was one of a string of mansion houses which formerly stood on the Strand, the principal route from the City of London to the Palace of Westminster.


In drama, Walkley's most important volume was the 1622 first quarto of Othello , printed for him by Nicholas Okes. [2] The book provided a "good text" of the play, and was the only early Shakespearean quarto that divided its play into five Acts. [3]

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1622.

<i>Othello</i> play by Shakespeare

Othello is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1603. It is based on the story Un Capitano Moro by Cinthio, a disciple of Boccaccio, first published in 1565. The story revolves around its two central characters: Othello, a Moorish general in the Venetian army and his unfaithful ensign, Iago. Given its varied and enduring themes of racism, love, jealousy, betrayal, revenge and repentance, Othello is still often performed in professional and community theatre alike, and has been the source for numerous operatic, film, and literary adaptations.

Nicholas Okes was an English printer in London of the Jacobean and Caroline eras, remembered for printing works of English Renaissance drama. He was responsible for early editions of works by many of the playwrights of the period, including William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, John Webster, Thomas Middleton, Thomas Dekker, Thomas Heywood, James Shirley, and John Ford.

In addition, Walkley issued other key editions of plays and masques, including

Masque courtly entertainment with music and dance

The masque was a form of festive courtly entertainment that flourished in 16th- and early 17th-century Europe, though it was developed earlier in Italy, in forms including the intermedio. A masque involved music and dancing, singing and acting, within an elaborate stage design, in which the architectural framing and costumes might be designed by a renowned architect, to present a deferential allegory flattering to the patron. Professional actors and musicians were hired for the speaking and singing parts. Often the masquers, who did not speak or sing, were courtiers: the English queen Anne of Denmark frequently danced with her ladies in masques between 1603 and 1611, and Henry VIII and Charles I of England performed in the masques at their courts. In the tradition of masque, Louis XIV of France danced in ballets at Versailles with music by Jean-Baptiste Lully.

Beaumont and Fletcher were the English dramatists Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, who collaborated in their writing during the reign of James I of England.

<i>A King and No King</i> 17th-century play by Beaumont and Fletcher

A King and No King is a Jacobean era stage play, a tragicomedy written by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher and first published in 1619. It has traditionally been among the most highly praised and popular works in the canon of Fletcher and his collaborators.

<i>Philaster</i> (play) play

Philaster, or Love Lies a-Bleeding is an early Jacobean era stage play, a tragicomedy written by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher. One of the duo's earliest successes, the play helped to establish the trend for tragicomedy that was a powerful influence in early Stuart-era drama.

Walkley wrote prefaces to Othello and A King and No King. The plays Walkley published from 1619 to 1630 were exclusively the property of the King's Men, indicating an apparent working relationship between the stationer and the acting company. [4] (Walkley's fellow stationer Francis Constable appears to have had a similar relationship with the King's Men in the same era.) Scholars have studied the 1622 quarto of Othello by comparing it to the other King's Men play quartos issued by Walkley. [5]

The King's Men was the acting company to which William Shakespeare (1564–1616) belonged for most of his career. Formerly known as The Lord Chamberlain's Men during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, they became The King's Men in 1603 when King James I ascended the throne and became the company's patron.

Francis Constable was a London bookseller and publisher of the Jacobean and Caroline eras, noted for publishing a number of stage plays of English Renaissance drama.

Walkley also released the first English translation of Pierre Corneille's Le Cid in 1638, just a year after its first French printing.

Other works

Beyond the confines of drama, Walkley was active in the area of non-dramatic poetry. He published

He also issued a volume titled Britain's Ida, or Venus and Anchises (1628) as the work of Edmund Spenser; it is definitely not Spenserian, and has been attributed to Phineas Fletcher.

Walkley published translations by Thomas May, along with pamphlets, Parliamentary speeches, legal documents, and a varied body of general literature, from Aesop's Fables to a history of the Roman Emperor Nero. He was also the publisher for works by the royal favorite George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, a fact crucial in his later prosperity. Walkley's entire output for the year 1627 was devoted to Buckingham's cause. That powerful connection gained Walkley the rights to the Parliamentary List and the Catalogue of Nobility, two highly profitable publications that Walkley released in multiple editions over many years (seventeen and fourteen editions, respectively, from 1625 on). [6]


Walkley was involved in lawsuits and controversies during his career including one over the rights to some of the works of Ben Jonson that eventually appeared in the second Jonson folio of 1640. [7] One critic has called Walkley a "fascinating rogue." [8] Yet legal troubles and even spells in prison were not unusual for the stationers of the Tudor and Stuart eras. (See Edward Allde, Nathaniel Butter, Nicholas Okes, and William Stansby for pertinent examples.) Walkley does not appear to have been worse (or better) than many of his contemporaries.

See also

Related Research Articles

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William Davenant 17th-century English poet and playwright

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<i>The Two Noble Kinsmen</i> play partly written by William Shakespeare

The Two Noble Kinsmen is a Jacobean tragicomedy, first published in 1634 and attributed to John Fletcher and William Shakespeare. Its plot derives from "The Knight's Tale" in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, which had already been dramatised at least twice before.

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Francis Beaumont 16th/17th-century English playwright

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John Fletcher (playwright) English Jacobean playwright

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John Lowin 16th/17th-century English actor and theatre sharer

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Ben Jonson folios

The folio collections of Ben Jonson's works published in the seventeenth century were crucial developments in the publication of English literature and English Renaissance drama. The first folio collection, issued in 1616, treated stage plays as serious works of literature instead of popular ephemera—at the time, a controversial position. The 1616 folio stood as a precedent for other play collections that followed—most notably the First Folio of Shakespeare's plays in 1623, but also the first Beaumont and Fletcher folio of 1647, and other collections that were important in preserving the dramatic literature of the age for subsequent generations.

Luminalia or The Festival of Light was a late Caroline era masque or "operatic show", with an English libretto by Sir William Davenant, designs by Inigo Jones, and music by composer Nicholas Lanier. Performed by Queen Henrietta Maria and her ladies in waiting on Shrove Tuesday, 6 February 1638, it was one of the last and most spectacular of the masques staged at the Stuart Court.

The Beaumont and Fletcher folios were two large folio collections of the stage plays of John Fletcher and his collaborators. The first was issued in 1647, and the second in 1679. The two collections were important in preserving many works of English Renaissance drama.

Henry Herringman (1628–1704) was a prominent London bookseller and publisher in the second half of the 17th century. He is especially noted for his publications in English Renaissance drama and English Restoration drama; he was the first publisher of the works of John Dryden. He conducted his business under the sign of the Blue Anchor in the lower walk of the New Exchange.

Robert Allot was a London bookseller and publisher of the early Caroline era; his shop was at the sign of the black bear in St. Paul's Churchyard. Though he was in business for a relatively short time — the decade from 1625 to 1635 — Allot had significant connections with the dramatic canons of the two greatest figures of English Renaissance theatre, William Shakespeare and Ben Jonson.

Richard Meighen was a London publisher of the Jacobean and Caroline eras. He is noted for his publications of plays of English Renaissance drama; he published the second Ben Jonson folio of 1640/1, and was a member of the syndicate that issued the Second Folio of Shakespeare's collected plays in 1632.

Richard Hawkins was a London publisher of the Jacobean and Caroline eras. He was a member of the syndicate that published the Second Folio collection of Shakespeare's plays in 1632. His bookshop was in Chancery Lane, near Sergeant's Inn.

Nathaniel Butter was a London publisher of the early 17th century. The publisher of the first edition of Shakespeare's King Lear in 1608, he has also been regarded as one of the first publishers of a newspaper in English.

John Waterson was a London publisher and bookseller of the Jacobean and Caroline eras; he published significant works in English Renaissance drama, including plays by William Shakespeare, John Fletcher, John Webster, and Philip Massinger.

William Stansby (1572–1638) was a London printer and publisher of the Jacobean and Caroline eras, working under his own name from 1610. One of the most prolific printers of his time, Stansby is best remembered for publishing the landmark first folio collection of the works of Ben Jonson in 1616.

Augustine Matthews English stationer and printer

Augustine Matthews was a printer in London in the Jacobean and Caroline eras. Among a wide variety of other work, Matthews printed notable texts in English Renaissance drama.


  1. Henry Robert Plomer, A Dictionary of the Booksellers and Printers Who Were at Work in England, Scotland and Ireland from 1641 to 1667, The Bibliographical Society/Blades, East & Blades, 1907; p. 187.
  2. William Shakespeare, The First Quarto of Othello, edited by Scott McMillin; the New Cambridge Shakespeare: the Early Quartos; Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2001; pp. 15-17 and ff.
  3. F. E. Halliday, A Shakespeare Companion 15641964, Baltimore, Penguin, 1964; p. 346.
  4. Sonia Massai, Shakespeare and the Rise of the Editor, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2007; pp. 120-1.
  5. Kenneth Walter Cameron, "Othello, Quarto 1, Reconsidered," Papers of the Modern Language Association Vol. 47 No. 3 (Spring 1932), pp. 671-83. See also McMillin's edition.
  6. Zachary Lesser, Renaissance Drama and the Politics of Publication: Readings in the English Book Trade, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2004; p. 160.
  7. Joseph Lowenstein, Ben Jonson and Possessive Authorship, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2002; pp. 209-10.
  8. E. A. J. (Ernst Anselm Joachim) Honigmann, The Texts of Othello and Shakespearian Revision, London, Routledge, 1996; p. 21. See also pp. 22-9 and ff.