Was Shakespeare a Homosexual Pedophile or an Estranged
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
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
"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
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
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