SparkNotes: Shakespeare’s Sonnets: Sonnet 116
The dedication in the frontispiece of the 1609 edition has sparked controversy among Shakespeare historians and has become a key piece of evidence in the .
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It is not known exactly when Shakespeare wrote his sequence of 154 sonnets, but the poems’ language suggests that they originate from the early 1590s. It is believed that Shakespeare was circulating his sonnets amongst his close friends during this period, as clergyman Francis Meres confirmed in 1598 when he wrote:
Shakespeare almost certainly intended his sonnets for manuscript circulation, which was not uncommon at the time, but exactly how the poems ended up in the hands of Thorpe is still unknown.