Thomas Walkley

Last updated

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]



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.


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]

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

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]

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

Early texts of Shakespeares works late 16th and early 17th-century editions of William Shakespeares works

The earliest texts of William Shakespeare's works were published during the 16th and 17th centuries in quarto or folio format. Folios are large, tall volumes; quartos are smaller, roughly half the size. The publications of the latter are usually abbreviated to Q1, Q2, etc., where the letter stands for "quarto" and the number for the first, second, or third edition published.

William Davenant 17th-century English poet and playwright

Sir William Davenant, also spelled D'Avenant, was an English poet and playwright. Along with Thomas Killigrew, Davenant was one of the rare figures in English Renaissance theatre whose career spanned both the Caroline and Restoration eras and who was active both before and after the English Civil War and during the Interregnum.

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

<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.

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 Beaumont 16th/17th-century English playwright

Francis Beaumont was a dramatist in the English Renaissance theatre, most famous for his collaborations with John Fletcher.

John Fletcher (playwright) English Jacobean playwright

John Fletcher (1579–1625) was a Jacobean playwright. Following William Shakespeare as house playwright for the King's Men, he was among the most prolific and influential dramatists of his day; during his lifetime and in the early Restoration, his fame rivalled Shakespeare's. He collaborated on writing plays with Francis Beaumont, and also with William Shakespeare on two plays.

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

John Lowin was an English actor.

Ben Jonson folios

Ben Jonson collected his plays and other writings into a book he titled The Workes of Benjamin Jonson. In 1616 it was printed in London in the form of a folio. Second and third editions of his works were published posthumously in 1640 and 1692.

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 are 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.

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.

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.