Thomas Millington (publisher)

Thomas Millington (fl. 15911603) was a London publisher of the Elizabethan era, who published first editions of three Shakespearean plays. He has been called a "stationer of dubious reputation"[1] who was connected with some of the "bad quartos" and questionable texts of Shakespearean bibliography.[2]

Life and work

He was the son of a William Millington, a "husbandman" of Hamptongay, Oxfordshire, and was apprenticed to a Henry Carre for a period of eight years, beginning on St. Bartholomew's Day (24 August) in 1583. Thomas Millington became a "freeman" (full member) of the Stationers Company on 8 November 1591. For a time he was in partnership with fellow guild member Edward White; their shop was located, and their title pages specify, "at the little north door of Paul's at the sign of the Gun."

Millington's business was at the lower end of the publishing scale in Elizabethan England; he printed many ballads, including some by Thomas Deloney. In 1595 he published The Norfolk Tragedy, a ballad based on the story of Babes in the Wood. During the mid-1590s Millington was fined three times by his guild, for issuing ballads to which he did not own the rights and similar small offenses.[3]


He also printed playbooks most notably, of three of Shakespeare's plays:

Millington published the second quartos of both The First Part of the Contention and The True Tragedy in 1600. And he had a link to one other Shakespearean play: when John Danter published Q1 of Titus Andronicus in 1594, the volume's title page states the book would be sold at Millington and White's shop in St. Paul's Churchyard. In a Stationers' Register entry of 19 April 1602, Millington transferred his rights to the two Henry VI plays and Titus to Pavier, the same man who gained the rights to Henry V two years earlier.


Thomas Millington published Henry Chettle's England's Mourning Garment in 1603, but then disappears from the historical record as did fellow publisher Andrew Wise in the same year. The major outbreak of bubonic plague in London in 1603 might not have been coincidental; printer Peter Short died in 1603, while publisher William Ponsonby passed on in 1604.


  1. F. E. Halliday, A Shakespeare Companion 15641964, Baltimore, Penguin, 1964; p. 317.
  2. Laurie E. Maguire, Shakespearean Suspect Texts: The "Bad" Quartos and Their Contexts, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1996; pp. 17, 87 and ff.
  3. Joseph Ames, Typographical Antiquities, London, 1790 edition; Vol. 3, p. 1379.
  4. E. K. Chambers, The Elizabethan Stage, 4 Volumes, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1923; Vol. 3, p. 486, Vol. 4, p. 7.
  5. Halliday, p. 318.
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