20th May 1609 Shakespeare's sonnets were published . Shakespeare thought that he could emulate the great Sir Philip Sidney and become immortal through a sonnet sequence. Unfortunately by 1609 sonnets were out of vogue and also Shakespeare's guarded and shadowed work was less accessable to the general reading public than Sidney's sequence.
The reaction to the sonnets was underwhelming.
The sonnets give us a real insight into the mind of Shakespeare, we see him on two levels on the subconscious level he appears to instinctively know that he will become immortal but on the conscious level he reveals himself as a very human writer who frequently suffered writers block and was a person who consistently doubted his own ability.
If the publication of the sonnets was Shakespeare's own decision then he was taking a distinct gamble because the publication of such literature could potentially harm his social standing . Shakespeare's sonnets did indeed immortalise Shakespeare but his sonnets were not celebrated as works of genius in his own lifetime.