The Rape of Lucrece (1594) is a narrative poem by William Shakespeare about the legendary Lucretia. In his previous narrative poem, Venus and Adonis (1593), Shakespeare had included a dedicatory letter to his patron, the Earl of Southampton, in which he promised to write a graver work. Accordingly, The Rape of Lucrece lacks the humorous tone of the earlier poem. The Rape of Lucrece was entered into the Stationers' Register on 9 May 1594, and published later that year, in a quarto printed by Richard Field for the bookseller John Harrison ( the Elder ); Harrison sold the book from his shop at the sign of the White Greyhound in St. Paul's Churchyard. The title given on the title page was simply Lucrece, though the running title throughout the volume, as well as the heading at the beginning of the text, is The Rape of Lucrece. (The Arden edition of Shakespeare's [The] Poems, ed F.T.Prince, London and New York, Methuen & Co. Ltd, 1960), from which this information is taken, calls the poem Lucrece.) Harrison's copyright was transferred to Roger Jackson in 1614; Jackson issued a sixth edition (O5) in 1616. Other octavo editions followed in 1624, 1632, and 1655. The poem went through eight editions before 1641.
William Shakespeare (26 April 1564 (baptised) - 23 April 1616) was an English poet, playwright and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the Bard of Avon. His extant works, including some collaborations, consist of about 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and a few other verses, the authorship of some of which is uncertain. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. Shakespeare was born and brought up in Stratford-upon-Avon. At the age of 18, he married Anne Hathaway, with whom he had three children: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith. Between 1585 and 1592, he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part-owner of a playing company called the Lord Chamberlain's Men, later known as the King's Men. He appears to have retired to Stratford around 1613 at age 49, where he died three years later. Few records of Shakespeare's private life survive, and there has been considerable speculation about such matters as his physical appearance, sexuality, religious beliefs, and whether the works attributed to him were written by others. Shakespeare produced most of his known work between 1589 and 1613. His early plays were mainly comedies and histories and these works remain regarded as some the best work produced in these genres even today. He then wrote mainly tragedies until about 1608, including Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, and Macbeth, considered some of the finest works in the English language. In his last phase, he wrote tragicomedies, also known as romances, and collaborated with other playwrights. Many of his plays were published in editions of varying quality and accuracy during his lifetime. In 1623, John Heminges and Henry Condell, two friends and fellow actors of Shakespeare, published the First Folio, a collected edition of his dramatic works that included all but two of the plays now recognised as Shakespeare's. It was prefaced with a poem by Ben Jonson, in which Shakespeare is hailed, presciently, as not of an age, but for all time. Shakespeare was a respected poet and playwright in his own day, but his reputation did not rise to its present heights until the 19th century.