Was Shakespeare a Homosexual Pedophile or an Estranged Father?

Why are Stratfordians willing to suspect the Author of being a homosexual pedophile, rather than face the possibility the love he bears for the Pretty Boy in the Sonnets is familial love?

Harold Bloom, whose virtues, in *Shakespeare The Invention of the Human,* I have been celebrating of late, comes so close when he understands that Falstaff’s love for young prince Hal is precisely the same as the love the Author of the Sonnets bears for the Pretty Boy:

Falstaff..[is] heartbrokenly in love in the mode of the poet in the Sonnets, rejected and forlorn. (511)

If Bloom had only recalled, in his discussion of *Lear,* what he’d said in his analysis of *Henry IV,* regarding Falstaff’s unconventional relationship to Hal, when he quotes the text itself:

That thou art my son I have partly they mother’s word, partly my own opinion, but chiefly a villainous trick of their eye, and a foolish hanging of thy nether lip, that doth warrant me. (II,iv,395)

Bloom might have put it all together himself.

*The Pretty Boy of the Sonnets is the Author’s estranged son,* or so he believed. And Falstaff’s delineation of how an estranged father knows these things is right on target, as anyone who has been in similar situations knows or, failing in this complexity of life, who has common sense in these petty affairs of the heart as their guide. Bloom constantly reminds us that Shakespeare is the world’s leading authority on cuckoldry. I dare say he came by it honestly.

The pathos of the Poet’s estrangement from the boy of the Sonnets is surely that of an alienated and illicit father to his *de facto* son, who he may never acknowledge directly, "alack thou were but one hour mine..." he cries.

The problem is that Shakespeare is not believed to have had an illicit relationship with William Herbert’s mother, Mary Sidney Herbert, the Countess of Pembroke, particularly not in 1579, as would be required if Herbert was, at least on the word of his mother, the Poet’s son.

However, Marlowe can easily be supposed to have had such a consanguinity. The connection between the poet and the boy, hampered by differences in station, seems impossible for Oxford, who could have had many illicit children among the nobility (and, presumably, the kitchen help) but who would have been, as a peer of realm, on an equal or superior footing to all his offspring.

On the other hand, this obviously painful difference in station, seems entirely in keeping for a Marlowe, once headed for holy orders, and like Adonis only 15 in 1579, the year of the Herbert’s conception and Marlowe’s entry into the Kings School, "[stop] Before I know myself, seek not to know me," Adonis adjures a heedless and  headstrong Venus.

But Venus didn’t stop. And Marlowe didn’t take holly orders. And William Herbert had a father, though his *de jure* father, Sir Henry Herbert, proves to have been sterile through two marriages and many affairs. Marlowe and Mary can both be seen in Kent or, even at Wilton House, according to Nashe, at the time of William’s conception and some sort of relationship between Marlowe and Mary is, if nothing else, strongly implied by Marlowe’s dedication to her of Latin love poems Marlowe attributed to his mentor, Thomas Watson, then recently deceased. The title page of Edward II explicitly connects Marlowe to the Herbert family. Mary is easily perceived as the mother of the Pretty Boy, in such lines as "Thou art thy mother’s glass, and she in thee Calls back the lovely April of her prime," and has been so seen by numerous Stratfordians, whose paradigm forced them to stop short of the obvious, though salacious, conclusion.

"April of her prime" is a loaded figure, alluding to the month of the boy’s birth, the registration of the poem and to Mary’s youth, which in 1609, when the Sonnets appeared in print, would have been many years in the past. Both Boas and Chambers make Mary Sidney Herbert out as the boy’s mother, Chambers, only reluctantly, late in his life, as we can see from his essay in the Encyclopedia Britannica, where he conceded that if "Mr. W. H." must be identified among the nobility that he was most likely William Herbert, rather than Southampton or someone else. As we have pointed out the obvious difference in social station between the poet and the boy makes it quite certain we must look among the nobility and shipwrecks, for example, Leslie Hotson’s case for William Hatcliffe.

Can a Stratfordian explain to me why they’d rather Willy a homosexual pedophile than the estranged father of Sir William Herbert, the Third Earl of Pembroke, whose initials openly grace the Sonnets and to whom the First Folio is dedicated, along with the statement that the family had supported the poet’s triflers in the past? A bonafide fact regarding Marlowe, but as yet an unestablished iteration regarding Shakespeare.

I can think of no other explanation than Stratfordians would have to give up the authorship of V&A and H4, to name just two of these marvelous works, to Marlowe.

But there must be other reasons as well. Explanations that lie beyond the pale of an errant truant such as myself. So what are they?

If Strats would kindly enumerate them, this lame dissident would be most grateful.


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