Robert Southwell: Saint Peters Complaynte

(2281 words)

Published almost immediately after the author’s martyrdom at Tyburn on 21 February 1595, St. Robert Southwell’s extended penitential poem Saint Peters Complaynte was an instant commercial success. Within two months of the author’s execution, three editions had already been printed, the first two by John Wolfe and the third by Gabriel Cawood, who was the first to enter it into the Stationer’s Register on 5 April, 1595 (Brown and McDonald lvi-lvii, lxii). By 1640 over a dozen editions had been printed, and the poem appeared as the first item in all collections of Southwell’s poetry, suggesting that it was Saint Peters Complaynte that gained an audience for the shorter lyrics. The fact that most of these editions …

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Chenovick, Clarissa. "Saint Peters Complaynte". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 08 August 2013
[, accessed 26 September 2016.]