William Shakespeare (baptised 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's preeminent dramatist.
Speculation on sexual orientation[edit | edit source]
Few details of Shakespeare's sexuality are known. At 18, he married the 26-year-old Anne Hathaway, who was pregnant. Susanna, the first of their three children, was born six months later on 26 May 1583. However, over the centuries readers have pointed to Shakespeare's sonnets as evidence of his love for a young man. Others read the same passages as the expression of intense friendship rather than sexual love. At the same time, the twenty-six so-called "Dark Lady" sonnets, addressed to a married woman, are taken as evidence of heterosexual liaisons.
Shakespeare's sonnets are cited as evidence of his possible bisexuality. The poems were initially published, perhaps without his approval, in 1609. One hundred and twenty-six of them appear to be love poems addressed to a beautiful young man known as the 'Fair Lord' or 'Fair Youth'; this is often assumed to be the same person as the 'Mr W.H.' to whom the sonnets are dedicated. The identity of this figure (if he is indeed based on a real person) is unclear; the most popular candidates are Shakespeare's patrons, Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton and William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke, both of whom were considered handsome in their youth.