Apostate Will

Age 11-12, Colston's School

Herbert Croft Transcript 1780
First Printing

Thomas Chatterton's poem Apostate Will Herbert  Croft.jpg

Apostate Will is, in all probability, Chatterton's first poem.

It was written in 1764 but not published until 1780 when Herbert Croft included it in his book Love and Madness.  According to Croft, the original Chatterton manuscript, which is lost, was in the possession of Sarah Chatterton, the poet's mother.

George Symes Catcott transcribed the copy shown here in 1777, it is from the same manuscript original as Croft; which Catcott also says was in the possession of Sarah Chatterton. In the last page of the transcript he states that the poem is 'supposed to be the first effort of her unfortunate son's poetical abilities' a statement he could only have got from Sarah or Mary.


The Croft transcript of Apostate Will is preferred by Taylor.

The images below are atmospheric, but the writing is too small to read; click the link below the images to get close-up views of all known versions/printings of this poem.

Catcott Ms. Trasncript B5342 (1777)

Thomas Chatterton's poem Apostate Willanscript.JPG
Thomas Chatterton's poem Apostate Will.JPG
Thomas Chatterton poem Apostate Will.JPG

Apostate Will

All versions with close-up views