Who Is the "Dark Lady" addressed in the sonnets?

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enotes | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The second (and last) set of poems (127 through 154) in Shakespeare's sonnets is addressed to a "Dark Lady." Akin to the search for the identity of the "young man," some of Shakespeare's biographers have assumed that there was, in fact, a Dark Lady with whom the poet was acquainted. Here, however, scholars do not even have the clue of prefatory initials. On the basis of sheer speculation, several young women of Queen Elizabeth I's court—including Mary Fitton, Emilia Lanier, and Lucy Morgan—have been put forth as historical models for the Dark Lady of Shakespeare's sonnets. Shakespeare probably knew of all three; but we have no hard evidence that he ever actually met any of them.

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