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Preface

Shakespeare's Sonnets: the most enigmatic of his works, with their pervasive hints of underlying biography and riddles of publication. Fact or fiction? His or another's? Authorized or not? The arguments abound - unabated for nearly two hundred years.

This book draws on substantive new evidence to reveal the truth. It serves serious students, but will also appeal to readers who are intrigued by mystery, unusual history, or just a wish to understand the poems.

Part I starts with an overview of their story and related theories. It develops the evidence to resolve all but one of the main puzzles, including their chronology and route to publication. It substantiates – for the first time beyond reasonable doubt - their revelations of the entangled affairs of a licentious young lord and three of his lovers. A compelling new explanation emerges for Marlowe's strange disappearance in 1593.

In Part II the primary evidence is supplemented and supported by further discovery within the Sonnets. Each of the 154 poems is accompanied by commentary and a modernized rendition, to allow easy assimilation of the medium and its layers of meaning. Bawdy subtext is explained and corroborated with usage within Shakespeare's plays (in some cases for the first time). History emerges in the voice of William Shakespeare, telling his own extraordinary story across the ages!