Songs and Sonnets (1557), the first printed anthology of English poetry, was immensely influential in Tudor England, and inspired major Elizabethan writers including Shakespeare. Collected by pioneering publisher Richard Tottel, it brought poems of the aristocracy - verses of friendship, war, politics, death and above all of love - into wide common readership for the first time. The major poets of Henry VIII's court, Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, were first printed in the volume. Wyatt's intimate poem about lost love which begins 'They flee from me, that sometime did me seke', and Surrey's passionate sonnet 'Complaint of a lover rebuked' are joined in the miscellany by a large collection of diverse, intriguingly anonymous poems both moral and erotic, intimate and universal.
Tom MacFaul lectures in Renaissance poetry and drama at Corpus Christi college, Oxford. His books include Male Friendship in Shakespeare and his Contemporaries (2007) and Poetry and Paternity in Renaissance England: Sidney, Spenser, Shakespeare, Donne and Jonson (2010). Amanda Holton is a Visiting Fellow at the University of Southampton, and a specialist in Old and Middle English and the English language. Her books include The Sources of Chaucer's Poetics (2008).