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Who was Shakespeare’s Dark Lady?

William Shakespeare is 455 today – cause for national celebration. Except, we don’t actually know if he was born on April 23 1564, only that his birth was registered on April 26 1564, and it is reasonable to suppose he was born three or four days previously. Assembling Shakespeare’s biography is an inexact science, based on a few surviving written records, and the content of his plays. We are lucky that most of his works have survived, and arguably this is more important that the identity and actions of one man in the late 16th and early 17th century. Yet there is an enduring obsession with who he was and why he wrote what he did. For example, were the sonnets inspired by real love affairs? If so, who were the lovers in question? Was the Fair Youth – to whom his most romantic sonnets were addressed – the Earl of Southampton? And who was the Dark Lady, the alleged inspiration for his darker, more overtly sexual love poetry (sonnets 127- 152). The object of his passion is a woman with b…

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