What was to become perhaps one of the most famous poetic works of all time was a slim volume on publication in 1609, containing 154 poems over 67 pages, and the edition is now extremely rare: only 13 copies survive. Sonnet 142 makes a direct reference to the Dark Lady’s sexual relationship, “Robbed others’ beds’ revenues of their rents.” (Dave). Today, poet Niall McDevitt writes about Emilia Bassano Lanier, who was a long-term resident of Spital Sq and believed by many to be the inspiration for William Shakespeare’s ‘Dark Lady’ of the Sonnets. After spending lavishly, her husband left her and their debts (Love). Shakespeare's own father was an official ale taster in Stratford – an important and respected job which involved monitoring the ingredients used by professional brewers and ensuring they sold their ale at Crown regulated prices. What Henry James knew, and described in English Hours (1905) – the strangeness present on a flattened seashore – M R James (no blood relation, although the two were acquainted) expressed in two of his best-known ghost stories: Oh, Whistle, and I’ll […]. The Dark Lady most importantly affected Shakespeare’s marriage with Anne Hathaway. The Dark Lady drove him “mad with desire and guilt”, but inspired by madness, Shakespeare formed beautiful poetry (Wood). Emilia’s scandalous reputation may have intrigued Shakespeare into acquainting himself with her. Along with being Shakespeare’s mistress, the Dark Lady was married and musically inclined (Love). But for many, the chief contender is Emilia Bassano, an accomplished poet and musician, whom historian A L Rowse identified as the elusive Dark Lady in 1973. Even the name of Shylock is an enigma, derived from the Hebrew word Shallach meaning an abusive usurer. Shakespeare’s well balanced treatment of a Jewish antagonist was rather unique for the period. For a literary understanding of the Sonnets, it is not important that we determine who Shakespeare’s dark lady was (whether it was Mary Fitton, Emilia Lanier, Lucy Morgan, Aline Florio, Jacqueline Field, Penelope Devereux, Marie Mountjoy, Jane Davenant, etc. As Shakespeare mourned for his son, Emilia saw that “he was famous and seemingly going places” and took advantage of him. Like those of the young man and the dark lady, the identity of this Mr. W.H. We can't be sure if she was even a real person. While his contemporaries reviled Jews or any other aliens for that matter, Shakespeare made his character sympathetic and human, while still keeping him a sufficient villain for his role in the plot. Some believe that she might be of Mediterranean descent with dark hair and dark eyes of Greece, Spain, Italy and Southern France. Later in life, Emilia earned the title of the first woman to publish a book of poetry (Love). Besides Shakespeare’s vulnerability and confusion, another reason for the affair between Shakespeare and Emilia may have been that Shakespeare wanted a mistress to prove “his abiding power and virility” as a nobleman. She came from the Bassano family, a family of Venetian Jews, who also happened to be the greatest musical family in Elizabethan London (Wood). Could it be that she wanted to respond to a set of poems that did not present her in the best light? The Dark Lady of the Sonnets In his preface Shaw identifies … Scholars have debated the issue for decades — potential candidates include Aline Florio, wife to a translator, Mary Fitton, a lady-in-waiting, and “Black Luce”, a brothel-owner. Her husband’s poor handling of money left her struggling when he died, at which point she opened a school. The Merchant of Venice was written only a few years after the earliest sonnets. A prisoner of extraordinary value. The woman of Shakespeare’s sonnets, the so-called dark lady, is earthy, sexual, and faithless—characteristics in direct opposition to lovers described in other sonnet sequences, including Astrophil and Stella, by Sir Philip Sidney, a contemporary of Shakespeare, who were praised for their angelic demeanor, virginity, and steadfastness. Occupation Shakespeare's relationship with the Dark Lady is almost exclusively described in a sexual context. Her character and personality are referred to in twenty seven sonnets, but her name is never to be revealed. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. website. A Midsummer Night’s Dream 1935. HAVEN’T FOUND ESSAY YOU WANT? By the time Shakespeare's sonnet sequence was published in 1609, the fashion for sonneteering was already passed, but the secret fascination for dark haired beauties no doubt long outlasted the fashion for sonnet writing. Morgan Lloyd Malcolm concocts a rollicking biography, for an all-female cast, of the "dark lady" of Shakespeare's sonnets. I had already read quite a few of them before…but I had never read all of them. The play was written as part of a campaign to create a "Shakespeare National Theatre" by 1916. Emilia Bassano was the illegitimate daughter of a Jewish Italian musician from Venice named Baptista Bassano, and was a courtesan at the court of Queen Elizabeth. Portrait miniature by Nicholas Hillard. In Search Of Shakespeare. A natural storyteller with a vision of his own, The Dark Lady, Akala's debut novel for teens will enthuse and entertain teenagers and young adults, showing that reading is a true super-power. The description of the Dark Lady distinguishes itself from the Fair Youth sequence by being overtly sexual in its passion. “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” is quoted 5m times on the internet. Click image to read my short story 'Changed' in The Cynic Online Magazine. 02 May 2012. Her father’s death left her the option of becoming the mistress of Lord Hunsdon. Bassano was born in Bishopsgate, London, in 1569 to Baptista Bassano, an Italian musician at Elizabeth I’s court, and his common-law wife, Margaret Johnson. Her complexion is muddy, her breath “reeks”, and she is ungainly when she walks. for more info see www.darkladyplayers.com John Hudson has discovered the real author of Shakespeare's Plays. Emilia could have met Shakespeare through Lord Hunsdon, because Lord Hunsdon was also Shakespeare’s patron. According to Sonnets 127 and 130, her skin is brown, lips pale, breath bad, voice shrill, eyes black, and hair black and wiry. Click image to read my short story, 'Liddell’s Ghost' in Cygnus, the Journal of Speculative Fiction. As I read through the later sonnets, I was caught off guard by their level of … The identity of the "dark lady" in Shakespeare's sonnets is one of literary history's mysteries. The chief suitor in the play is named Bassanio. The Dark Lady drove him “mad with desire and guilt”, but inspired by madness, Shakespeare formed beautiful poetry (Wood). Though her intentions were to receive advice from Simon, Emilia occasionally found herself in his bed. Love, Mark. “Emilia Lanier (Dark Lady).” In Search of Shakespeare. The poet's appreciation of the Dark Lady's appearance is complex: He is glad that she does not use cosmetics to lighten her appearance, which would be "a bastard shame," but she is not physically attractive to the poet, for all her erotic appeal. Last winter I was reading through Shakespeare’s sonnets, out of curiosity, as I prepared for a role. Fingers crossed they do another one this year! Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. First time commenters are moderated. ‘There must be something ghostly in the air of Christmas,’ wrote Jerome K. Jerome in the introduction to his darkly comic collection Told After Supper (1891), ‘something about the close, muggy atmosphere that draws up the ghosts, like the dampness of the summer rains brings out the frogs and snails’. The scholars imagined the poem as "The Dark Lady." The Dark Lady is a woman described in Shakespeare's sonnets (sonnets 127–154) and so called because the poems make it clear that she has black hair and dun coloured skin. Ultimately, "none of the many attempts at identifying the dark lady…a… The Dark Lady influenced a significant deal of Shakespeare’s sonnets and life and will never be identified, but Emilia Lanier proves to be the best candidate, for she had similarities in both the social and literature world with Shakespeare. Working 24/7, 100% Purchase After becoming pregnant, her career as Lord Hunsdon’s mistress came to an end, and she was married off to another musician, Alfonso Lanier. It is difficult to know how significant the darkness of the dark lady was. She “has come to be known as the Dark Lady, a name that reflects her morals as well as her complexion” (Andrews “Love…” 64). In Shakespeare’s private life, the Dark Lady added to his time of disasters, but professionally it provided “fantastically creative” writing (Wood). The enduring puzzle of Shakespeare’s ‘Dark Lady’ The identity of an unnamed woman is one of English literature’s great mysteries. The principal themes og his sonnets were love, time but also beauty, daeth and friendship. St. Louis: Turtle Back Books, 2001. But its influence has been all-encompassing, providing a template for language, for literature, for love, ever since. The seductive Dark Lady who inspired some of Shakespeare’s most famous and explicit sonnets has remained a mystery for centuries. Shakespeare's sonnets appeared to tell a story - of his anguished private life. ( Log Out /  Hi there, would you like to get such a paper? At 23, she became pregnant with Carey’s child — a fact hastily covered up by marriage to her cousin, Alphonso Lanier. (Love) Emilia and Shakespeare had several connections in society and more connections in their writings. A new play explores the life of one of the candidates To follow me on Twitter or Facebook click on one of the links below. Moreover, her work has a strikingly feminist drive: dedicated to a collection of female patrons, it takes on Genesis, exonerating Eve of bringing “original sin” into the world and blaming this accusation on “evilly disposed men”. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. Andrews, John. Emilia was the mistress of one of Shakespeare’s patrons, she was strikingly beautiful, and her family was of Jewish ancestry, so it has been suggested that she is the woman who is addressed in these sonnets. So who were the Fair Youth, the Dark Lady and Mr WH? In 2000 the BBC produced a series called Ghost Stories for Christmas, with Christopher Lee in which Lee played M R James reading four of his own stories. Dickens would no doubt agree, […], The macabre beneath the landscape is not dispelled by nearness to the sea. It may not be by coincidence that Shakespeare and Emilia had similar thoughts. Though the work was not popular in her time, Bassano’s poems and thoughts have been championed by modern feminist thinkers and today she is considered one of the foremost female poets of the period. Several other similarities in Shakespeare’s heroines are peppered throughout his plays. In 1611, Emilia published the proto-feminist tome called Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum, a long poem on the women of the Bible with dedicatory letters to prominent women of the period. But Shakespeare does not seem to have any problem with that. It is also possible that they met through Simon Foreman. However, after these opening four lines, the poet then acknowledges that to other people the Dark Lady's appearance is anything but lovely. However, St. Louis: Turtle Back Books, 2001. Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Works CitedAndrews, John. Shakespeare and Emilia did not just meet by chance, but by circumstance. The Dark Lady suddenly appears (Sonnet 127), and she and the speaker of the sonnets, the poet, are in a sexual relationship. Beer, however, eventually became more popular than ale. He wrote a series of love poems to a woman named Laura. Aged seven, following her father’s death, Emilia was sent to live with the highly literate Susan Bertie, Countess of Kent, who gave her the sort of education generally bestowed on boys. When she became pregnant, Amelia was exiled from court and next surfaces as the mysterious 'dark lady' in Shakespeare's sonnets. Here’s a real treat to conclude the series of Christmas ghost stories that I’ve been posting for the last few weeks – the BBC adaptation of The Tractate Middoth from just a couple of years ago. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! Here’s a real festive treat. The Dark Lady most importantly affected Shakespeare’s marriage with Anne Hathaway. As a dramatist and artist, Shakespeare was in a … Emilia’s volume of poetry was pro-feminine. She challenged not only her bed vows, but Shakespeare’s also. She writes that without women none of these powerful men would exist due to giving birth or being reared by women. Even with evidence, only Shakespeare can provide the answers to the mystery of the Dark Lady. The Dark Lady Sonnets by William Shakespeare. “Love in the Sonnets.” Shakespeare’s World and Work. Sonnet 142: 'Love is my sin and thy dear virtue hate' Love is my sin and thy dear virtue hate, Hate of … In conclusion then, I am absolutely convinced that the Dark Lady was a negro woman. The Dark Lady not only influenced pages of marvelous poetry, but she convinced Shakespeare to break his bed vow. A pickpocket with an exceptional gift. PBS Home Video, 2003. Lost Hearts, an early tale which apparently James didn’t much care for, and which only appeared in Ghost Stories of an Antiquary to […].