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TWO AUTHORS FOR THE SONNETS?

 

 

A few years ago, in my Stratfordian days (by default, not conviction), I read a remarkable book on the sonnets: Shakespeare’s Secret, by Rudolf Menander Holzapfel. The scenario it paints is the only one that makes any sense to me: that the sonnets to a young man were written by a father to his illegitimate son, to whom he had been denied access. RMH identifies Mr WH as William Herbert, Fourth Earl of Pembroke, issue of a liaison between  S. and the notoriously libidinous Duchess of Pembroke, who would have been 17 y.o. at the time.

 

That fatal flaw with this is that S. would have had to have been 15 y.o., and still at Stratford. It is inconceivable that this could be correct. A far more likely scenario is that the father in question is Sir Francis Bacon, who would have been 18 y.o. at the time, and just returned from his sojourn in Europe.

 

Ted Hughes, in his “Shakespeare and the Goddess of Complete Being” (Faber 1992), argued compellingly for S.’s lameness, on the basis of its mention in four of the sonnets, and the tradition of his walking stick. In my new book (see my web site), I find further evidence of S.’s lameness, in Henry the Eighth and The Winter’s Tale. Very briefly, I argue that the First Folio was Bacon’s baby, yet with a vital contribution from S.. Ted Hughes proved beyond all reasonable doubt that the tragedies are allegories of the breakdown and recovery of a Puritan psyche, the reference being to S.’s own life story. I show that the entire corpus of plays treats, as allegory, S.’s breakdown of 1587, and his inner journey to recovery under the aegis of B.. S. contributed to them a personal element, to sit beside the clinical commentary by B., in the manner of a treatise by Jung.

 

I conclude therefore the sonnets to have a dual authorship, like the plays (ignoring, for the sake of argument, the certain contribution of Marlowe, and almost certain of B.’s “good pens”): the WH group proceeding from the pen of B., the Dark Lady sonnets from S.. The explicit mentions of “Will” in the latter would have been the perfect cover for B.’s occult authorship of the WH group. A piece of supportive evidence is their styles: the Dark Lady group – albeit they are fine poetry – being perceptibly lower in terms of language, metaphor, philosophy, and richness of reference.

 

A  possible problem with this scenario is that all four mentions of lameness occur in the WH sonnets. However, I take them to refer to the well-documented crippling of B.’s career in public life, which still obtained in the years of composition of the sonnets: again, a perfect cover.

 

There is clearly a large subjective element in this theory; however, I feel it fits the facts very tightly indeed.

 

Any thoughts anyone?

 

(This article was first posted on the authorship forum www.natlantis.com/Shakespeare.html 22 May 03)

 

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