Lot 806
  • 806

Trussell, John

20,000 - 30,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Trussell, John
  • Raptus I. Helenae. The First Rape of Faire Hellen. Done into a Poeme, by I.T. Imprinted at London by Richard Johnes, at the signe of the Rose and Crowne next above S. Andrewes Church in Holborne, 1595
  • ink, paper, leather
4to (7 1/4 x 5 3/8 in.; 185 x 140 mm). Woodcut printer's device on title-page (McKerrow 283), woodcut and type-ornament headpieces, with first leaf A1, blank save for signature mark and type ornament; quire B in fairly convincing facsimile on period paper, lower fore-edge corner of A4 lost, one segment of type-ornament headpieces of A3v and A4r traced over in pencil, scattered browning and staining. Crushed brown morocco gilt by Sangorski & Sutcliffe.


Cashel Cathedral Library (GPA-Bolton Library), Cashel, Ireland (Christie's London, 23 June 1993, lot 202). acquisition: Purchased at the foregoing sale through Bernard Quaritch


STC 24296; ESTC S95592; cf. M. A. Shaaber, "The First Rape of Faire Hellen by John Trussell," in Shakespeare Quarterly VIII, 4 (1957): 407–20

Catalogue Note

First edition, one of two recorded copies. Trussell's poem has been long—if tenuously—associated with Shakespeare. Wolf and Fleming relate in their biography of Rosenbach that "With much fanfare the Doctor told of his scholarly find in The Rape of Faire Hellen, 1595, which he had bought at the Britwell sale in 1922 for £100. He now valued it at $50,000 [bidders, take note], for, he said, after much research he was able to establish it as the first plagiarism of Shakespeare, written by one of his Stratford neighbors, John Trussell, who cryptically addressed one of the dedicatory sonnets to Shakespeare, used the metre of Venus and Adonis, and lifted the title and plot, only slightly varied, from The Rape of Lucrece, which had appeared the year before" (p. 349).

Dr. R. was not alone in looking for a Shakespearian connection with The Rape of Faire Hellen. Others have suggested that Shakespeare and Trussell were cousins, as well as neighbors, and in his edition of Robert Southwell's Triumph over Death (St.Louis: The Catholic Library, 1914), John William Trotman argued that all of what is popularly known as Shakespeare's works actually came from the pen of John Trussell.