THE DARK LADY by Cothburn O'Neal


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Some 16th century researching- and romancing- is also a quite fascinating reversal of the Shakespeare story which, over and above the comment and curiosity it may arouse, is an intriguing entertainment. Contending that the Shakespeare plays were written by a woman, the author builds an amazing case which rests largely on the Fenus and Adonis sonnets for its derivation. They are allegedly the work of fiery Rosaline Allen, the illegitimate daughter of the Earl of Oxford and an Italian tumbler. When first met, Rosaline- as the boy-actor Ross Allen- appears before a dubious audience of effeminate nobles, among them the Earls of Sussex and Southampton. She falls in love with Southampton and it is to him that the sequence is dedicated. She risks her neck by playing Venus before the Queen and escapes detection- but when Southampton discovers that she is a woman, they become lovers. From then on, their fortunes are followed in context with the plays and Shakespeare's lines are used to verify the existence of this new ""dark lady"" .... Perhaps no proof positive, but the case is presented with imagination- and vitality- and care, and it's a literary speculation well worth the gamble.

Pub Date: Sept. 22nd, 1954
Publisher: Crown