Holinshed

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Raphael Holinshed (sometimes, by his contemporaries, Holingshead) (c.1525-1580?) - his surname is now pronounced with the stress on the first syllable, and the '-sh-' rendered as the single sibilant '-sh-', IPA: /'hɒ lɪn ʃɛd/ - was the chief editor and compiler, but only partly the author, of the Chronicles of England, Scotlande, and Irelande (first published in 1577). This is commonly known as Holinshed's Chronicle - although Raphael Holinshed was never more than the compiler and editor-in-chief.

  • The project was conceived, as a Polychronicon - from Greek πολύ (polu, 'many') and χρονικός (chronikos, 'of. relating to time, chronological') - or 'Universal History' (Universal Cosmographie), by Holinshed's first master, the printer Reyner Wolfe (d. in, or before, 1574). On his death, the project was entrusted to Holinshed and William Harrison (1535-1593), who compiled their material mostly by amalgamating the writings of other men. The History of England was written by Holinshed himself (his own main source for the recent past was Hall's Chronicle), and The Description of England by Harrison. The Scottish section is largely a translation of Hector Boece's Scotorum Historiae. The Jesuit martyr (St) Edmund Campion (1540-1581) and Richard Stanyhurst (1547-1618) collaborated on The History and The Description of Ireland. This first edition of 1577 was widely read, disseminated and respected.
  • The second edition, of 1587 (after Holinshed's death), is perhaps the most likely to interest users of AWE who are studying English Literature: Shakespeare used it as a principal source of his English History Plays, as well as for King Lear, Macbeth and Cymbeline. The 2nd edition was edited by Abraham Fleming (c.1552-1607) and John Hooker [or Vowell] (c.1527-1601). Hooker revised the Irish section, Francis Thynne (sometimes called Boteville) (1545?-1608) the Scottish, along with some of the English, to which John Stow[e], (1524/5-1605) (author of a famous Survey of London, 1598) also contributed. Holinshed was a major source for other dramatists and writers of the period. Shakespeare also used Hall's Chronicle as a direct source, as well as indirectly from Holinshed's version.