I'm not sure why it matters, if it does.  Spenser went over with Raleigh in December; the poem was printed early in the following year.  We aren't sure whether he read proof in the shop.  He says in CCHA (as Patrick Cheney reminds me) that he read before the queen, and in one of the commendatory verses, "H.B." tells the Muses that "Our Goddesse here . . . biddes this rare dispenser of your graces / Bow downe his brow unto her sacred hand."  That may be purely figurative and imaginary, but it could also be a reference to Elizabeth's welcoming the Muses, in the form of Spenser and his poem, to England:  "Grave Muses march in triumph and with prayses, / Our Goddesse here hath given you leave to Land."
    So I'm wondering whether Spenser may not have read at court already by the time the poem was in press, and even whether Elizabeth may have offered her hand in token of some special recognition. 

David Lee Miller

Department of English              543 Boonesboro Avenue
University of Kentucky            Lexington, Kentucky 40508
Lexington, KY  40506-0027

(859) 257-6965                            (858) 252-3680
FAX 323-1072

-----Original Message-----
From: Sidney-Spenser Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Roger Kuin
Sent: Wednesday, January 07, 2004 5:55 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: a biographical detail

I'd be surprised if we had any way of **knowing** -- it's the sort of thing we'd need a real stroke of hairy luck to find out. But likewise, why does it matter? My own feeling is that he may well have read from printed sheets -- easier than MS, even one's own -- plus the kudos of being able to show that it was getting there, half way to immortality. But that's just raw guesswork.
Other question: who was he reading **to**? "at Court" is pretty general, and could range from the circle of people like Robert Langham, the irrepressible Keeper of the Council Chamber, to the grandees and the Great Cat Herself; with all sorts of possibilities in between. The surviving Sidney Circle? the Anglo-Irish crowd? the Literaries? Interesting question -- but answerable??

Roger Kuin

Spenser is reputed to have read at court in 1590 when he came over from Ireland with the first installment of The Faerie Queene.  It's a plausible story.  If it's true, would we have any way of knowing whether he read before or after the manuscript went to the printer?  Before or after the first three books were in print?

David Lee Miller
Department of English                 543 Boonesboro Ave
University of Kentucky               Lexington, KY 40508
Lexington, KY 40506-0027     (859) 252-3680
(859) 257-6965
FAX  323-1072