Ponsonby, William (1546?-1604) (DNB00)

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PONSONBY, WILLIAM (1546?–1604), publisher, was apprenticed for ten years from 25 Dec. 1560 to William Norton [q. v.], the printer (Arber, i. 148). He was admitted to the Stationers' Company on 11 Jan. 1571, and in 1577 began business on his own account at the sign of the Bishop's Head in St. Paul's Churchyard. He engaged his first apprentice, Paul Linley, on 25 March 1576, and his second, Edward Blount [q. v.], on 24 June 1578. His earliest publication, for which he secured a license on 17 June 1577, was 'Praise and Dispraise of Women' by John Alday [q. v.] A few political and religious tracts followed in the next five years. In 1582 Ponsonby issued the first part of Robert Greene's romance, 'Mamillia,' and in 1584 the same author's 'Gwydonius.' At the end of 1586 he sought permission, through Sir Fulke Greville, to publish Sidney's 'Arcadia,' which was then being generally circulated in manuscript. His proposal was not received with much enthusiasm by Sidney's representatives, but Ponsonby secured a license for its publication on 23 Aug. 1588, and in 1590 he published it. He liberally edited and rearranged the text. A new issue of 1593, 'augmented and ended,' introduced a few changes, but in 1598 Sidney's sister, the countess of Pembroke, by arrangement with Ponsonby, revised the whole and added Sidney's 'Apologie for Poetrie' and his poetic remains. Ponsonby had in 1595 disputed the claims of Henry Olney to publish the first edition of Sidney's 'Apologie for Poetrie,' but the first edition came from Olney's press. With the Countess of Pembroke he seems to have been on friendly terms, and in 1592 published for her, in a single volume, her translations of De Mornay's 'Life and Death ' and Garnier's 'Antonius.' The first piece Ponsonby reissued separately in 1600.

Ponsonby chiefly owes his fame to his association with Spenser. No less than ten volumes of Spenser's work appeared under his auspices. In 1590 he published the first three books of Spenser's 'Faerie Queene,' and next year he brought together on his own responsibility various unpublished pieces by Spenser in a volume to which he gave the title of 'Complaints.' He prefixed an address to the reader of his own composition. Subsequently he issued in separate volumes 'The Tears of the Mures' and 'Daphnaida,' both in 1591; 'Amoretti ' and 'Colin Clout's come home again' in 1595; and in 1596 the fourth, fifth, and sixth books of the 'Faerie Queene,' as well as a collected edition of the six books, and two other volumes, respectively entitled 'Fowre Hymns' and 'Prothalamion.' He was admitted to the livery of his company on 6 May 1588, and acted as warden in 1597-8. His latest appearance in the Stationers' 'Registers' is as one of the proprietors of a new edition of Sir Thomas North's great translation of Plutarch, 5 July 1602. He died before September 1604, when his chief copyrights were transferred to Simon Waterson. They included, besides the 'Arcadia' and the 'Faerie Queen,' Clement Edmonds's 'Caesar's Commentaries' and the Countess of Pembroke's translation of De Mornay's 'Life and Death.'

[Arber's Registers of the Stationers' Company, passim, especially ii. 35, 866, iii. 269; Biblio. graphica, i. 473-8; Collier's Bibliographical Catalogue, it. 346 sqq.]

S. L.