Ryan J-W Smith has written more Shakespearean sonnets than any other poet in known history (Shakespeare wrote 154). Smith’s “accidental” foray into world record-holding began on November 20th, 2007 when, as an already accomplished verse playwright, he decided to see if he could write a reflective or inspirational sonnet every day, or thereabouts.

Smith considered it to be a good way for him to examine how well, or not, he was adapting the Buddhist teachings he was learning into his daily life. Highly candid, the sonnets detail his personal thoughts and emotions over a range of issues including reflections on life, ambition, relationships, politics, fear, envy, anger, death and practically everything in-between.

What began as a simple idea turned into a compelling ritual of spiritual and psychological healing, and poetic mastery, that continues to this day, with little or no precedent. In July, 2012, the first 500 of Smith’s “never written for publication” sonnets were published in the unanimously praised book, 500 Shakespearean Sonnets. Readers have hailed it as a profound way, not only into Smith’s healing mind, but also into their own.

Ryan has now written over 1650 sonnets… and counting. Feel free to read some of his latest sonnets enshrined on the backdrop of some of his photography here – and now on instagram too! @RyanJWSmith

500 Shakespearean Sonnets: The Diary of a Poetic Quest for Truth

To date he has written over 1,500 Shakespearean sonnets. This book contains Smith's first 500.

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 "Candid, spiritual, philosophical and sometimes boldly political... a landmark in literature"

Watkin's Magazine

"this collection shows a tremendous talent and deserves to sit alongside your Poes, Plaths, and T.S. Elliots"

Mass Movement Magazine

"Masters of the verse - Smith pays homage to the Bard with the must-read collection of his own modern verse"

London Planner

"an honest process of learning, healing and repentance...

a collection of inspirational, honest and didactic poetry"

Mouth London

"Incredibly well written...a poetic achievement.

A great gift for any poetry lover in your life.

Stunning stuff."

Frost Magazine

"impressively well-constructed... often startlingly expressive and insightful...

a fascinating and richly detailed picture of the author"

Neon Literary Magazine

"Shakespeare's managed to write 154 - Smith has penned more than three times that number.

...splendidly contemporary...a tour de force"

Herald Scotland



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"Shakespeare's record of 154 in his lifetime as breathtaking. But what Ryan J-W Smith has achieved is simply awe-inspiring...

a very truthful portrayal of life...beautifully crafted... highly recommended"

Book A Poet

Reader Reviews:



I started 500 Shakespearean Sonnets at Sonnet 1, and I am making my way, slowly and surely, one masterpiece, by one. Ryan J-W Smith noted in his introduction that if anyone were to do this it would be in a moment of madness. On the contrary, given the power of the prelude and what he shares around his purpose for writing, for me it was the only option. It would be, and is as expected, the best and most fulfilling way to share the author's amazing journey of self-healing and discovery. Without question, each piece stands alone with intense authority and is a joy to read. Indeed, in every case the poems actually warrant more than one review. It is a rare opportunity, however to be exposed so explicitly to a fellow human's fluctuating reflections, raw thoughts and observations. Ryan's expression and representation is so beautifully real, connected and open, it is wonderfully easy to relate to as a reader. I have giggled to myself about how randomly yet aptly matters have been explained. The vision he has and how this is translated into prose is potent, inspiring and for the reader reassuring and very liberating.

500 Shakespearean Sonnets is an account of an amazing passage. For me it has brought much peace and to the author I am most grateful. May this be true for anyone else who chooses to open their minds and hearts to the beauty of loving themselves and what it is to be human. Enjoy 🙂

Christabelle - Amazon Review


The diary of 500 Shakespearean Sonnets is in one word brilliant! Even those who think they would not be interested or fear they may not understand will be massively surprised. It's written in a modern way which is easy to understand. I pretty much only studied Shakespeare at school so I am no expert but Smith beats Shakespeare for me!

LizB - Amazon Review



This is a fascinating and beautiful read. Possibly because it was initially written for his own purposes and not intended for publication it is very personal, stark, honest, amusing at times and hauntingly lovely at others. His writing style is superb, a true wordsmith, it can be simple and raw or more complex and intricate depending on the subject and presumably his mood at the time of writing each sonnet. They are consistently well written and give a glimpse into the mind of the author and his musings for that day. Given the quality of the writing is arresting enough to capture your attention, it is also gratifying that the subject matter in itself is also well worth the read. His observations on matters of ego, self, humanity and the mind are at times stunning. I look forward to more from this talented and rare Man.

S L Howard - Amazon Review


truly worth reading

Hi. Just bought the new book of Ryan JW Smith "500 Shakespearean Sonnets". And I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for some NON FAKE poetry, which is actually quite rare now...

I find this book quite inspirational starting from it's introduction. The author is incredibly honest and sincere to his audience and not many of us would be able to talk about ourselves so open and critical. The same feeling you can get by reading the Sonnets. You can sense straightaway that these were not created for any commercial purposes - it is purely self expression "product". And this is the reason why this book is so good. Each day/each sonnet is like a piece of author's diary: different moods, thoughts and themes. From daily life episodes to the deep analysis of our existence...

By reading each sonnet you can discover something completely new or recognise yourself in it. And maybe start thinking a bit more... 😉

Eve - Amazon Review


These sonnets are truly brilliant as they express deep inspired psychological truths in well very crafted, rhymed and beautiful sonnets. The meanings are deep-but for anyone looking for the path to Liberation they contain many profound insights and clues. The best book of contemporary poetry I have come across since the Four Quartets.

Alan Jacobs, Author of '108 Sonnets for Awakening' / President of the Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK

Live Radio

Ryan’s poetry has been heard many a time and oft on radio over the years, and in the mid-2000’s Ryan was a regular guest on BBC Radio. Here is just one example of Ryan performing his unique verse taken from the show ‘Good News, Bard News’, in which Ryan would write and perform a new sonnet live on air in the BBC studio.

'Revelations' - Ryan J-W Smith in 'Good News, Bard News'

by BBC Radio

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