“Every word doth almost tell my name”

The Authorship of Shakespeare’s Sonnets

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About the Book

Shall I compare thee to a Summer’s day? With these immortal lines Shakespeare begins his most famous sonnet and perhaps the most famous love poem of all time. But this poem, and more than 100 others, first published 400 years ago in a slim volume entitled Shakespeare’s Sonnets, was written by Shakespeare not about a beautiful young woman, but about a beautiful young man, whom Shakespeare addresses as “my lovely boy.” If Shakespeare was infatuated with a lovely boy, who was he? If he was a rich aristocrat, as the sonnets seem to suggest, how did Shakespeare make his acquaintance? Who was the Dark Lady described in the later sonnets? And what is the meaning of the Sonnets’ enigmatic dedication that refers to the mysterious Mr.W.H.? These questions and innumerable others have perplexed scholars for centuries. No comprehensive answers to the immensely puzzling questions raised by the poems have ever been presented. This book takes a fresh approach to the difficult issues presented by the Sonnets and upsets many cherished assumptions about the handsome young man, the Dark Lady, Mr.W.H. and Shakespeare himself.

About the Author(s)

Peter McIntosh has published widely in the scientific literature and has previously written two short books on Shakespeare’s sonnets as well as publishing articles on the dates and sources of Coriolanus and The Tempest. He lives in Hobart, Australia.

Bibliographic Details

P.D. McIntosh
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 220
Bibliographic Info: 7 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7371-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0269-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Acknowledgments vii

Foreword by Rodney Croome 1

Preface 5

Introduction 9

A Note on the Texts 13

 1. Death of a Poet 15

 2. A Question of Age 18

 3. The Elusive Shakespeare 21

 4. A Strange Disconnection 30

 5. “My Lovely Boy” 33

 6. Shakespeare Gets Intimate 40

 7. A Troubled Relationship 59

 8. The Dedication Puzzle 70

 9. Who Was the Fair Youth? 76

10. The Royal Male 82

11. Cadiz, Glory and Treason 91

12. Deciphering the Dedication 105

13. The Royal Connection 111

14. Vocabulary and Imagery 123

15. New Light on the Dark Lady 133

16. Death and the Maiden 152

17. The ­“Heaven-­Born Goddess” 164

18. A Tiger’s Heart 178

Appendix 1: Subject Matter in Sonnets 1–126 181

Appendix 2: Events in Essex’s Life 186

Appendix 3: Events in Essex’s Life and at Court Compared to Events Mentioned in Sonnets 1–126 188

Notes 195

Bibliography 202

Index 207