E. Cobham Brewer 18101897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.
King of Shreds and Patches.
In the old mysteries Vice used to be dressed as a mimic king in a parti-coloured suit. (Shakespeare: Hamlet, iii. 4.) The phrase is metaphorically applied to certain literary operatives who compile books for publishers, but supply no originality of thought or matter.