John Gerarde, The Herball, 1597 - violets, p.699, detail.

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Date:1597

Description:A Shakespearian plant reference.

The plant and flower references in Shakespeare’s works are numerous. John Gerarde’s Herball lists and describes all the plants known in contemporary England, and this may well be a book that Shakespeare knew. Ophelia distributes flowers in her madness in Hamlet: ‘I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died.’ (4,5, line 183). The Duke Orsino describes a breeze that picks up the scent of violets: ‘the sweet south that breathes upon a bank of violets, stealing and giving odour.' (Twelfth Night, 1,1, lines 5-7).


Full title: John Gerarde, The Herball, [colophon: Edm. Bollifant for Bonham and John Norton], 1597. (Copy with contemporary hand-colouring.)


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1570s
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1590s
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1610s
Plutarch, The lives of the noble Grecians and Romaines, 1612 - Antony and Cleopatra, p. 922, detail.
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Shakespeare followed this description of Cleopatra. Shakespeare became very ...

1630s
William Shakespeare, Quartos, Love's Labour's Lost, 1631 - title page
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Donor ref:SR/OS 97.3 [827] (32/10512)

Source: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust - Library

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