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Shakespeare's Dark Lady

Amelia Bassano Lanier the woman behind Shakespeare's plays?

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Author: John Hudson

Amelia Bassano was born in 1569 into a family of Venetian Jews who were court musicians to Queen Elizabeth I. At about the age of thirteen, she became mistress to the fiftysix-year-old Lord Hunsdon, Henry VIII’s reputed son by Mary Boleyn. As Lord Chamberlain, Hunsdon was in charge of the English theatre and would become the patron of the company that performed the Shakespearean plays. Amelia lived with him for a decade, during which time she also had an affair with the playwright Christopher Marlowe. When she became pregnant, Amelia was exiled from court and next surfaces as the mysterious ‘dark lady’ in Shakespeare’s sonnets. At the age of forty-two, she became the first woman to publish a book of original poetry, employing linguistic features resembling the later Shakespearean plays. Amelia died in poverty in 1645.

Drawing upon a wealth of documentary evidence, this controversial and provocative book unites Tudor history, feminism, and Shakespeare scholarship to demonstrate that Amelia Bassano was in all the right places and had all the right knowledge, skills, and contacts to have produced the Shakespearean canon.

Book ISBN 9781445655246

Book Format Paperback

pages 304 pages

Publication Date 15 Jan 2016

Height 198

Width 124

Illustrations 27

Regular Price: £9.99

Special Price: £7.00

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"well-researched,fascinating and thought-provoking"Review by Kirkus Review
Rating
Hudson’s first book is a scholarly examination of the ongoing debate about the authorship of the works of William Shakespeare.

Hudson argues that an obscure but talented woman named Amelia Bassano Lanier—posited to be both Shakespeare’s “dark lady” of the sonnets and a “secret Jew”—was in the right place at the right time, and had the right skills and knowledge, to be the true creator of classics such as Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing. Regardless of one’s opinion on the subject of the Bard of Avon’s works and their provenance, this book is a smart, wide-ranging examination of the society and circumstances of the 16th and 17th centuries. Subjects covered include Shakespearean scholarship itself (and its methods), life in late Renaissance London and the British royal court, English theater, plagues, gender, religion, intellectual life and a great deal more. Hudson argues that Shakespeare’s plays, like Lanier’s work, are highly critical of Christianity, that they reflect her travels (including a journey to Denmark) and that Lanier—like Shakespeare—is said to have undertaken a brief career as a schoolteacher. That Lanier had so much of the same background as Shakespeare supports Hudson’s theory; that she had even more of the necessary background than the Bard did (as a musician, a law clerk, etc.) makes Hudson’s case even more compelling. Even if Lanier didn’t write the works of Shakespeare, she is a notable person in her own right. Exhaustively documented, with a lengthy bibliography and full index, the volume is clearly written and makes a deeply intriguing case for its thesis. Although many readers will take exception to its ideas from the very beginning (not everyone agrees that the generally known biography of Shakespeare makes him “superhuman” or his efforts “impossible”), Hudson’s historical sleuthing and careful speculation make the Lanier theory at least as plausible as most of the others (from Edward de Vere, Christopher Marlowe and Francis Bacon on down). With graphics that include a “knowledge map” of which candidates might have been able to write which plays and symmetry analyses of some of the major works, the book advances these ideas concisely and with great rhetorical conviction.

Well-researched, fascinating and thought-provoking. (Posted on 01/04/2016)

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