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Did William Shakespeare have an affair on his wife? If so, who did he have the affair...

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vanessanumber1 | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 28, 2009 at 5:31 AM via web

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Did William Shakespeare have an affair on his wife? If so, who did he have the affair with? Also, was it a man?

I need to know this for a project I'm doing about A Midsummer Night's Dream.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted December 28, 2009 at 1:24 AM (Answer #1)

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Sadly, for a man of William Shakespeare's stature in the literary world, there is very little documented information about his personal life. There is no specific proof that Shakespeare ever had an affair outside of marriage, and there is likewise no documentation that he dabbled in homosexual encounters.

Most Shakespeare scholars will point to several examples in his writings that may hint toward these questions. There is the mention in Shakespeare's will leaving his wife, Anne Hathaway, "the second best bed with the furniture." Many people interpret this to mean that Shakespeare's best bed was meant for someone else. However, it is likely that he meant it in the strictest literary sense--since only one-third of his possessions lawfully belonged to the wife, it is possible that the "best bed" was merely bequeathed to another relative or friend.

Many of Shakespeare's sonnets--at least 26--are addressed to a married woman known as the "Dark Lady." Whether Shakespeare had an affair with the "Dark Lady" is only conjecture; the sonnets themselves may be strictly fictional. A larger number of his sonnets are addressed to a "Fair Lord" or "Fair Youth," but again, no proof or identification of the recipient is given. The sonnets are open to interpretation, and most of them concern the nature of physical love written in a 17th century style that can be quite ambiguous to the modern reader.

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