Shakespeare's Dark Lady

Topics: Shakespeare's sonnets, Emilia Lanier, Peter Bassano Pages: 3 (831 words) Published: September 20, 2012
Impossible To Find Shakespeare’s Dark Lady

William Shakespeare’s supposed mistress may be the reason behind his remarkable, yet dark last twenty seven sonnets. She “has come to be known as the Dark Lady, a name that reflects her morals as well as her complexion” (Andrews “Love…” 64). Along with being Shakespeare’s mistress, the Dark Lady was married and musically inclined (Love). She challenged not only her bed vows, but Shakespeare’s also. 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.

Emilia Lanier was a woman of several talents. She came from the Bassano family, a family of Venetian Jews, who also happened to be the greatest musical family in Elizabethan London (Wood). Her father’s death left her the option of becoming the mistress of Lord Hunsdon. After becoming pregnant, her career as Lord Hunsdon’s mistress came to an end, and she was married off to another musician, Alfonso Lanier. After spending lavishly, her husband left her and their debts (Love). Emilia found comfort with Simon Foreman, an analyst, astrologer, and doctor. She asked him if her husband was to return and if she were ever to be a lady (Wood). Though her intentions were to receive advice from Simon, Emilia occasionally found herself in his bed. Later in life, Emilia earned the title of the first woman to publish a book of poetry (Love). Emilia’s volume of poetry was pro-feminine. In it, she criticizes men by declaring that without women, men “would be quite extinguished out of the world” (Love). Emilia’s scandalous reputation may have intrigued Shakespeare into acquainting himself with her.

Shakespeare and Emilia did not just meet by chance, but by circumstance. Emilia could have met Shakespeare through Lord Hunsdon, because Lord Hunsdon was also Shakespeare’s patron. It is also...


Cited: Andrews, John. “Love in the Sonnets.” Shakespeare’s World and Work. St. Louis: Turtle Back Books, 2001. Print.
Andrews, John. “Interpreting the Sonnets.” Shakespeare’s World and Work. St. Louis: Turtle Back Books, 2001. Print.
Dave, Nigel. “The Dark Lady of Shakespeare’s Sonnets.” The Place 2 Be. Yahoo, 2009. 16 May 2012. .
Hudson, John. “Amelia Bassano Lanier: A New Paradigm.” The Oxfordian 11 (2009): 67-82. Web. 02 May 2012.
In Search Of Shakespeare. Dir. Wood, Michael. PBS Home Video, 2003. DVD.
Love, Mark. “Emilia Lanier (Dark Lady).” In Search of Shakespeare. MayaVision International, 2003. Web. 28 April 2012. .
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