Generally Eclectic

De Vere/Shakespeare

Edward De Vere and the Sonnets of Shakespeare

In 1609, five years after the death of Edward De Vere, 154 sonnets were published under the name Shakespeare. Because of the intensity of feelings in the sonnets, it is difficult to conceive of the author consenting to their publication in his lifetime.

There is no official explanation on key questions such as who were the sonnets written to and why were they written. In fact, some have contended that they are works of fiction, not written to anyone but written to express some creative feeling of the moment. Any serious reading of the sonnets would surely reject the suggestion that the sonnets are works of fiction, because of the passion in the language and the care and precision in the words.

If the sonnets are not works of fiction, then they provide a great deal of information about the author, his interests, and his concerns.

A reading of the sonnets in the order they were published appears to add to the story of the individual sonnets. For example, the first 17 sonnets urge a young man to marry and have children, and most of the first 126 sonnets are written to a "friend". Sonnets 127 to 154 appear to be written to a mistress with dark hair and dark eyes. The ordering of the sonnets provides additional biographical information about the author. It is not inconceivable that the author wrote the sonnets as a form of poetic biography mapping out certain aspects of his life over time.

Who were the sonnets written to? In 1593, the poem Venus and Adonis was published under the name Shakespeare, and dedicated to Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southhampton. In 1594, Lucrece was also published under the Shakespeare name, and also dedicated to Henry Wriothesley. Wriothesley was born in 1573. His father passed away in 1581, and Wriothesley eventually became a ward of the state under William Cecil, Lord Burghley. Edward de Vere had become a ward of the state under Burghley on his father's passing in 1561. In 1593, Burghley was promoting a marriage between Henry Wriothesley and Elizabeth de Vere, Edward's first daughter and the grand daughter of Burghley. If Edward de Vere wrote the works published under the Shakespeare name, then it is reasonable to assume that the friend to whom the sonnets were written was Henry Wriothesley, to whom Shakespeare/de Vere had already dedicated two long poems. As de Vere was at the time promoting a marriage of Wriothesley to de Vere's daughter, it is not surprising that the first seventeen sonnets would urge a young man to marry and have children.

There are a number of potential connections between the sonnets and the life of Edward de Vere. A full exploration of these connections remains to the written. This section remains to be written. If you want to write this page, we would be happy to publish it here on your behalf, with full accreditation.