|Resting place||St George's Church, Beckington (buried 14 October 1619)|
|Occupation||Poet, playwright, and historian|
|Education||Magdalen Hall (now Hertford College), Oxford|
|Period||Late-Elizabethan and early-Jacobean eras|
|Relatives||John Danyel (Brother)|
Samuel Daniel (1562–1619) was an English poet, playwright and historian in the late-Elizabethan and early-Jacobean eras. He was an innovator in a wide range of literary genres. His best-known works are the sonnet cycle Delia, the epic poem The Civil Wars Between the Houses of Lancaster and York, the dialogue in verse Musophilus , and the essay on English poetry A Defense of Rhyme. He was considered one of the preeminent authors of his time and his works had a significant influence on contemporary writers, including William Shakespeare. Daniel's writings continued to influence authors for centuries after his death, especially the Romantic poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth. C. S. Lewis called Daniel "the most interesting man of letters" whom the sixteenth century produced in England.
Little is known about Samuel Daniel's early life.Biographer Thomas Fuller in Histories of the Worthies of England (1662) states that he "was born not far from Taunton" in Somerset. The earliest evidence providing definitive details of his life is an entry in the signature book of Oxford University documenting his matriculation at Magdalen Hall (now Hertford College) on "17 Nov., 1581, aged 19". Daniel did not complete his degree at Oxford; Anthony à Wood in Athenae Oxonienses (1691) states that he "was more prone to easier and smoother studies, than in pecking and hewing at logic".
While at Oxford, Daniel met the author and translator John Florio, who was an Italian tutor at the university at the time.In 1582, Daniel contributed a Latin verse to Florio's Giardino di Recreatione. Daniel maintained a relationship with Florio for years thereafter. He wrote a dedicatory poem that was included in Florio's translation of Michel de Montaigne's Essays in 1603. The second edition of Florio's Montaigne, published in 1613, included a revised version of Daniel's dedication in which the poet referred to Florio as "my dear friend and brother". This has led to the inference that either Florio had married Daniel's sister or Daniel had married Florio's sister, an inference that has never been proven.
Daniel's first published work was The Worthy Tract of Paulus Jovius, a translation of an Italian treatise on impresa or emblems by historian Paolo Giovio.This emblem book was published in 1585 by Simon Waterson, who would remain Daniel's friend and principal publisher for the rest of his life. The Worthy Tract of Paulus Jovius was dedicated to Sir Edward Dymoke, the Queen's Champion. Daniel's association with Dymoke was the first of a series of close relationships with noble patrons that came to characterise the author's literary career.
Dymoke wrote a letter of introduction on Daniel's behalf which allowed the young student to live in the English embassy in France between 1585 and 1586 as he advanced his studies.Between 1590 and 1591, he returned to the continent, travelling part of the time accompanied by Dymoke. Daniel and Dymoke met the poet Giovanni Battista Guarini in Italy and defended English as a language worthy of poetry and great writers.
Daniel's literary career was effectively launched in late 1591 with the unauthorized inclusion of some of his Delia sonnets in the posthumous first edition of Sir Philip Sidney's Astrophel and Stella .Sidney's sister, Mary Sidney, the Countess of Pembroke, objected to the surreptitious publication of her brother's work, and the edition was recalled by the Stationers Company. In 1592, Daniel published the first authorized edition of his own poetic works, the sonnet cycle Delia, and the historical poem The Complaint of Rosamond. Daniel dedicated Delia to Mary Sidney and begged her forgiveness for the inclusion of his poems in the unauthorized edition of her brother's work, claiming that he had been "betrayed by the indiscretions of a greedy printer." Soon after the publication of Delia and Rosamond, Daniel was invited to join the Pembroke household, serving the family in some capacity, perhaps as tutor to the twelve-year-old William Herbert. He also joined a group of writers encouraged by Mary Sidney that has come to be referred to as the Wilton Circle, a group that included Edmund Spenser, Michael Drayton, Sir John Davies, and Abraham Fraunce.
Immediately upon the publication of Delia and Rosamond, Daniel began receiving praise from English poets and scholars, including Thomas Nashe, Thomas Churchyard, and Gabriel Harvey.Edmund Spenser, at the time England's most highly regarded living author, endorsed Daniel in Colin Clouts Come Home Again (1595), stating that "there is a new shepherd late upsprung, / The which doth all afore him far surpass" and imploring his fellow poet to "rouse thy feathers quickly, Daniel, / And to what course thou please thyself advance".
From 1592 to 1593, under the patronage of Mary Sidney, Daniel completed The Tragedy of Cleopatra, which was published in 1594. The play was written at the request of Sidney as a sequel to Robert Garnier's French tragedy Marc-Antoine, a play she had translated into English as The Tragedy of Antony and published in 1592.Both plays were written in the style of classical closet drama, plays more intended to be read than performed. During the early to mid-twentieth century literary critics postulated that the plays were part of Mary Sidney's effort to reform English theater, returning it to classical standards espoused by her brother, Philip Sidney, in his Defense of Poesy. This view of Mary Sidney's work was advanced by T. S. Eliot in his 1932 essay, "Apology for the Countess of Pembroke". Subsequent literary criticism, however, has suggested that Sidney's literary efforts were not part of a campaign against English drama, but rather were efforts to adapt continental works on history for an English audience and use them for contemporary political commentary.
After the publication of Cleopatra, Daniel parted ways with Mary Sidney and experienced financial difficulties. He was taken in by Charles Blount, Baron Mountjoy, as described in the first edition of Daniel's epic poem about the Wars of the Roses, The First Four Books of the Civil Wars Between the Two Houses of Lancaster and York, published in 1595.The poem included complimentary references to Mountjoy and a section praising him and his close friend Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex. Daniel had worked at Essex's estate, Wanstead, as he wrote the initial version of his poem.
Between 1595 and 1599, Daniel added a fifth book to The Civil Wars and included the expanded poem in The Poetical Essays of Samuel Daniel, a collection of his works dedicated to Mountjoy and published in 1599. The collection included revised versions of Delia, Rosamond, and Cleopatra, as well as two new works, Musophilus and A Letter From Octavia to Marcus Antonius. Musophilus was dedicated to Daniel's friend and fellow poet Fulke Greville, whose discussions with Daniel had inspired the dialogue in verse, a debate between a poet and a courtier on the value of writing poetry relative to more worldly pursuits.A Letter from Octavia was dedicated to Margaret Clifford, the Countess of Cumberland, whose relationship with her philandering husband inspired Daniel's sympathetic portrayal of Mark Antony's wife, Octavia. The use of the word "Essays" in the title of the collection may have been inspired by Montaigne's French work that had used the same word in its title. Like Montaigne's writings, Daniel's collection included works that debated topics in a contemplative, self-reflective style.
During the late 1590s to first years of the 1600s, Daniel took on the role of tutor to the young Anne Clifford, daughter of the Countess of Cumberland, the woman to whom he had dedicated A Letter to Octavia. Anne Clifford maintained a sense of gratitude and affection toward Daniel through the rest of her life. She included his portrait and volumes of his works in the family triptych she commissioned that has come to be known as The Great Picture.
In 1601, a new collection of Daniel's writings was published titled The Works of Samuel Daniel, Newly Augmented. Once again, the collection contained revised editions of his earlier works, including an expanded version of The Civil Wars that now extended to a sixth book. The Civil Wars was newly dedicated to Queen Elizabeth, likely reflecting Daniel's elevated stature as one of the leading poets of the day, regarded by some as the successor to Edmund Spenser, who had died in 1599.
After Queen Elizabeth's death and King James's accession in 1603, Daniel quickly became associated with the new court. Through the support of Lucy Russell, Countess of Bedford, he presented his Panegyrick Congratulatory to the King's Most Excellent Majesty to the new king in April of that year.A revised version of the poem was published later in 1603, along with Daniel's Epistles addressed to various members of the nobility and his essay A Defense of Rhyme.
Daniel became closely associated with King James's queen, Anne (or Anna) of Denmark, who commissioned him to write a masque, The Vision of the Twelve Goddesses , which was performed at Hampton Court in January 1604.In February of that year, Daniel was appointed the licenser of plays for the Children of the Queen's Revels, giving him the responsibility of reviewing the plays presented to the court. This appointment ultimately led to the only known significant difficulty and embarrassment that Daniel encountered in his literary career. Two controversial plays The Dutch Courtesan and Eastward Ho! were both performed by the Children of the Queen's Revels after having been approved by Daniel. More disturbingly for Daniel, his own play, The Tragedy of Philotas, performed before King James in January 1605, was believed to include political commentary on the seditious end of the Earl of Essex, who had been executed in 1601. Daniel was called before the Privy Council to defend himself. Although he was acquitted of any charges, the incident caused him great embarrassment, resulting in written apologies to his longtime friend Charles Blount (formerly Baron Mountjoy, then the Earl of Devonshire ), whom he had inadvertently pulled into the affair, and to Robert Cecil, King James's advisor and Secretary of State. In an epistle to Prince Henry, that accompanied the 1605 printed version of Philotas, Daniel reflected his new world-weary perspective, stating that "years hath done this wrong, / To make me write too much, and live too long."
If the controversy surrounding Philotas damaged Daniel's reputation with King James, the damage was short-lived. In 1605, the play was included in the published collection of his works, Certain Small Poems, and in August his pastoral tragicomedy The Queen's Arcadia was performed before Queen Anne and Prince Henry at Christ Church in Oxford.
In April 1606, Daniel's friend and patron, Charles Blount, died. Daniel wrote a funeral poem to his longtime supporter that was printed as A Funeral Poem Upon the Death of the Noble Earl of Devonshire and included in the 1607 edition of Daniel's Certain Small Works.The title page of that collection of Daniel's works was the first to refer to him as "one of the Grooms of the Queen's Majesty's Privy Chamber", an elevated status that he shared with his friend John Florio. Certain Small Works included a substantially revised edition of The Tragedy of Cleopatra, one that has been thought to be more performable on stage than the original closet drama version. Recent scholarship has identified a painting of a noblewoman dressed as Cleopatra as being a portrait of Anne Clifford dressed as the Egyptian queen, perhaps associated with a staged performance of the 1607 version of Daniel's play.
In 1609, Daniel published his final version of The Civil Wars, a work that now extended to eight books. Daniel dedicated the work to Mary Sidney, the patron who had helped first bring him to prominence. In the dedication to the epic poem, he stated that he had intended to continue the work "unto the glorious union of Henry VII", meaning the marriage of Henry Tudor (Queen Elizabeth's grandfather) to Elizabeth of York in 1486.The final version of the poem, however, only extended through Edward IV's marriage to Elizabeth Woodville in 1464. In the dedication, Daniel also stated that he intended to write a prose "History of England, from the Conquest", introducing the principal project that was to occupy the rest of his literary career and life.
Daniel spent most of the final decade of his life in semi-retirement, living at a country house in the small hamlet of Ridge (now Rudge in the village of Beckington in Somerset.In 1610, he wrote the masque Tethys' Festival , which was performed at Whitehall to celebrate the investiture of King James's son, Henry, as Prince of Wales. During the next few years, Daniel conducted research on English history, relying in part on the expertise and collections of his friends, the antiquarians William Camden and Robert Cotton. In 1612, he published the first instalment of his prose history, The First Part of the History of England, an edition covering the early years of England's history, from the Norman Conquest (1066) through the end of the reign of King Stephen (1154). In 1614, he wrote the pastoral play, Hymen's Triumph, which was performed to celebrate the wedding of Jean Drummond to Robert Ker, 1st Earl of Roxburghe at Queen Anne's new palace, Somerset House.
The final version of Daniel's prose history, The Collection of the History of England was published in 1618. It included material from The First Part of the History and continued from the point where that work had left off through the end of the reign of Edward III (1377).
The final work that Daniel wrote was a poem addressed to James Montague, Bishop of Winchester, in 1618. It was intended to console the Bishop who was suffering from jaundice. The work suggests that Daniel may have been suffering from the same illness; he says of "this close vanquishing / And secret wasting sickness" that he had "struggled with it too".
It is unclear if Daniel was ever married. The burial of a "Mrs. Daniell" is recorded in the Beckington register in March 1619, seven months before Daniel's death; however, it is unknown if this was the author's wife.Daniel executed his will on September 4, 1619 and died the following month; he was buried on October 14, 1619 at St George's Church in Beckington. In the 1650s, Daniel's old student, Anne Clifford, had a memorial monument erected to honour him at the church.
Many of Samuel Daniel's poems and plays were reprinted multiple times in collections of his writings during his lifetime, often in substantially revised editions that represented distinct versions of the works.The following list of Daniel's major works demonstrates the breadth of his writing, both in terms of subject and genre. Included in the list is a brief description of the work, the volume and year in which it originally appeared, and the years of significant revisions:
In 1623, the same year as the publication of Shakespeare's First Folio, Samuel Daniel's younger brother, John Danyel, a lute player and composer in King James's court, oversaw the publication of a collection of his brother's poetry in an edition titled The Whole Works of Samuel Daniel Esquire in Poetry. The collection was dedicated to King James's son, Prince Charles. It included copies of the 1609 edition of The Civil Wars, and newly printed editions of Daniel's other verse works, each generally with their own title page dated 1623 but based upon the final versions published during the poet's life.
Samuel Daniel was born a year or two before William Shakespeare and died three years after him. The literary careers of both started in the 1590s and ended in the 1610s. Both writers enjoyed success and came to be regarded as leading authors of the period, though Shakespeare was more associated with the popular stage and Daniel with courtly poetry and noble patrons. Literary scholars generally accept that many of Shakespeare's plays and poems were influenced by Samuel Daniel's works, while the possible influence of Shakespeare's plays on Daniel's works has been more subject to debate.
Samuel Daniel scholar, John Pitcher, states, "One measure of Daniel's quality and importance as a writer is the assiduousness with which Shakespeare followed and drew freely on his every publication. ... But it would be deeply unfair to leave Daniel in Shakespeare's wake".
Evidence of the influence of Daniel's works on Shakespeare includes the following:
Evidence of Shakespeare's possible influence on Daniel's works includes the following:
An essay by Albert Harthshorne in 1899 in The Archaelogical Journal reported that during his retirement, Daniel "received his friends, among them Shakespeare, Chapman, Marlowe of the 'mighty line', Drayton, and Jonson".The facts that Christopher Marlowe had died in 1593, many years before Daniel's retirement, and that Daniel had an acrimonious relationship with Jonson, casts doubt on the comment as a whole. There is no direct evidence that Daniel was friendly with Shakespeare or knew him personally, although they likely shared many common acquaintances, including John Florio, Henry Wriothesley, William Herbert, and Ben Jonson.
During his lifetime, Daniel was regarded as one of the most important English authors of the period.His writings contributed innovations to a wide range of literary genres, including the sonnet cycle (Delia), the complaint (Complaint of Rosamond), neo-classical drama (Tragedy of Cleopatra), the epic (The Civil Wars), the verse colloquy (Musophilus), the literary essay ("Defense of Rhyme"), and epistolary verse (Certain Epistles). He continued to have admirers for centuries after his death and his works had a significant influence on many other authors. John Milton adapted elements of his works in Paradise Lost . Alexander Pope parodied the opening of The Civil Wars in The Rape of the Lock . Samuel Taylor Coleridge was a particular admirer of Daniel's work, referring to him as "one of the golden writers of our golden Elizabethan age ... whose diction bears no mark of time". Coleridge's friend and collaborator William Wordsworth reflected Daniel's influence in many of his works and included an extended quotation from Daniel's Epistle to the Countess of Cumberland in his poem The Excursion . Henry David Thoreau referred to Daniel to elucidate his own thoughts in A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers .
Although Daniel's work fell into obscurity during the 20th century, he continued to have admirers. Many anthologies of early modern literature include excerpts from his Delia, Musophilus, and A Defense of Rhyme.In his 1944 English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, Excluding Drama, C.S. Lewis said of Daniel that he "actually thinks in verse; thinks deeply, arduously; he can doubt and wrestle ... he is the most interesting man of letters whom that century produced in England."
One factor that contributes to the diminished recognition of Daniel's works in the 20th century, relative to some of his contemporaries, is his calmer, less emotional style. As reflected in C.S. Lewis's assessment that Daniel "thinks in verse", his poetry often employs the more precise language of debate, self-doubt, and deep thought rather than passionate imagery. In Musophilus, Daniel described his poetry as "a speaking picture of the mind" (line 170).The conversational, less lyrical nature of his poetry resulted in criticism, even from the time when he wrote. Fellow poet Michael Drayton, a contemporary of Daniel's, called him "too much historian in verse" and stated that "His rimes were smooth, his meters well did close, / But yet his manner better fitted prose". Yet those same qualities of his writing are what helped him appeal to Coleridge and Wordsworth, who in their prelude to Lyrical Ballads (1802) asserted that "a large portion of the language of every good poem can in no respect differ from that of good prose". In Biographia Literaria (1817), Coleridge praised Daniel's poetry for "many and exquisite specimens of that style which, as the neutral ground of prose and verse, is common to both." At the time that Coleridge and Wordsworth were writing, Daniel's "prosaic" style seemed more current than that of many other Elizabethan poets. The 18th century literary critic Robert Anderson expressed this in his 1795 anthology Works of the British Poets. Anderson wrote of Daniel that there is "in both his poetry and prose such a legitimate rational flow of language, as approaches nearer the style of the 18th than the 16th century".
Aspects of Daniel's writing may also be closer to the 20th and 21st century than to his own time. Much of his work expresses a sympathy for the plight of women who maintain their dignity despite being regarded as the subordinates of undeserving men.He exhibited this attitude in his dedicatory verses to Mary Sidney, his poem Letter from Octavia, and especially in his Epistle to Countess of Cumberland. The pensive, self-reflective style of much of his poetry is more similar to some modern poetry than the more ornate style of many of his contemporaries. His belief that every culture and era had value to offer in its thought and writing, reflected in A Defense of Rhyme, and refusal to accept that poetry and art should be artificially held to classical standards, differed from the attitude of many humanist writers and thinkers of his time. In Musophilus, he demonstrated the foresight to see the benefit of writing in English, even though the use of the language was restricted to one small island. He presciently wrote, "who in time knows whither we may vent / The treasure of our tongue ... Or who can tell for what great work in hand / The greatness of our style is now ordained" (lines 947 to 954).
Daniel also had the humility to admit that he, along with all humans, is fallible and is prone to hold strongly to opinions that will come to be regarded as misguided. This humility is demonstrated in the following comment from his Collection of the History of England:
Pardon us antiquity, if we miscensure your actions which are ever (as those of men) according to the vogue, and sway of times, and have only their upholding by the opinion of the present. We deal with you but as posterity will with us (which ever thinks itself the wiser) that will judge likewise of our errors according to the cast of their imaginations.— Collection of the History of England (1618), p. 101
In many of his works, Daniel expressed a deep regard for the power of written language ("blessed letters") to reach across cultures and generations. As he wrote in Musophilus:
The last time a thorough edition of the works of Daniel appeared in print was in the late nineteenth century, in the five-volume Complete Works in Verse and Prose (1885–1896), edited by Alexander Balloch Grosart. Two collections of selected works were published during the twentieth century: Poems and a Defence of Ryme (1930), an edition that preserves the original early modern spelling and punctuation, edited by Arthur Colby Sprague, and Selected Poetry and a Defense of Rhyme (1998), a modernized edition, edited by Geoffrey G. Hiller and Peter L. Groves. John Pitcher is currently working on a multi-volume critical edition of Daniel's complete works to be published by Oxford University Press.
Daniel's Tragedy of Cleopatra was staged by the University College London (UCL) Centre for Modern Exchanges in 2013 as part of a project to evaluate if the "closet drama" was performable. A recording of the performance is available on Vimeoand an analysis of it is included in Yasmin Arshad's book Imagining Cleopatra: Performing Gender and Power in Early Modern England.
Daniel is a significant supporting character in the novel Imperfect Alchemist, by Naomi Miller, a fictionalized account of Mary Sidney.
William Shakespeare was an English playwright, poet, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". His extant works, including collaborations, consist of some 39 plays, 154 sonnets, three long narrative poems, and a few other verses, some of uncertain authorship. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. They also continue to be studied and reinterpreted.
Musophilus is a long poem by Samuel Daniel, first published in 1599 in his Poetical Essays.
Shakespeare's sonnets are poems written by William Shakespeare on a variety of themes. When discussing or referring to Shakespeare's sonnets, it is almost always a reference to the 154 sonnets that were first published all together in a quarto in 1609. However, there are six additional sonnets that Shakespeare wrote and included in the plays Romeo and Juliet, Henry V and Love's Labour's Lost. There is also a partial sonnet found in the play Edward III.
The term Metaphysical poets was coined by the critic Samuel Johnson to describe a loose group of 17th-century English poets whose work was characterised by the inventive use of conceits, and by a greater emphasis on the spoken rather than lyrical quality of their verse. These poets were not formally affiliated and few were highly regarded until 20th century attention established their importance.
A sonnet cycle or sonnet sequence is a group of sonnets, arranged to address a particular person or theme, and designed to be read both as a collection of fully realized individual poems and as a single poetic work comprising all the individual sonnets.
Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke was among the first Englishwomen to gain a significant reputation for her poetry and her literary patronage. By the age of 39, she was listed with her brother Philip Sidney and with Edmund Spenser and William Shakespeare among the notable authors of the day in John Bodenham's verse miscellany Belvidere. Her play Antonius is widely seen as reviving interest in soliloquy based on classical models and as a likely source of Samuel Daniel's closet drama Cleopatra (1594) and of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra (1607). She was also known for translating Petrarch's "Triumph of Death", for the poetry anthology Triumphs, and above all for a lyrical translation of the Psalms.
Elizabethan literature refers to bodies of work produced during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558–1603), and is one of the most splendid ages of English literature. In addition to drama and the theatre, it saw a flowering of poetry, with new forms like the sonnet, the Spenserian stanza, and dramatic blank verse, as well as prose, including historical chronicles, pamphlets, and the first English novels. Major writers include William Shakespeare, Edmund Spenser, Christopher Marlowe, Richard Hooker, Ben Jonson, Philip Sidney and Thomas Kyd.
"A Lover's Complaint" is a narrative poem written by William Shakespeare, and published as part of the 1609 quarto of Shakespeare's Sonnets. It was published by Thomas Thorpe.
Sonnet 55 is one of the 154 sonnets published in 1609 by the English playwright and poet William Shakespeare. It is included in what is referred to as the Fair Youth sequence.
Sonnet 14 is one of 154 sonnets written by the English playwright and poet William Shakespeare. It is a procreation sonnet within the Fair Youth sequence.
Sonnet 21 is one of 154 sonnets written by the English playwright and poet William Shakespeare and is part of the "fair youth" sequence. Like Sonnet 130, it addresses the issue of truth in love, as the speaker asserts that his lines, while less extravagant than those of other poets, are more truthful. Contrary to most of Shakespeare's sonnets, Sonnet 21 is not addressed to any one person. There is no second person, no overt "you" or "thou" expressed in it.
Sonnet 22 is one of 154 sonnets written by the English playwright and poet William Shakespeare, and is a part of the Fair Youth sequence.
Sonnet 23 is one of a sequence of 154 sonnets written by the English playwright and poet William Shakespeare, and is a part of the Fair Youth sequence.
Sonnet 25 is one of 154 sonnets published by the English playwright and poet William Shakespeare in the Quarto of 1609. It is a part of the Fair Youth sequence.
Sonnet 141 is the informal name given to the 141st of William Shakespeare's 154 sonnets. The theme of the sonnet is the discrepancy between the poet's physical senses and wits (intellect) on the one hand and his heart on the other. The "five wits" that are mentioned refer to the mental faculties of common sense, imagination, fantasy, instinct, and memory. The sonnet is one of several in which the poet's heart is infatuated despite what his eyes can see.
Sonnet 151 is the 151st of 154 poems in sonnet form by William Shakespeare published in a 1609 collection titled Shakespeare's sonnets. The sonnet belongs to the Dark Lady sequence, which distinguishes itself from The Fair Youth sequence by being more overtly sexual in its passion. Sonnet 151 is characterized as "bawdy" and is used to illustrate the difference between the spiritual love for the Fair Youth and the sexual love for the Dark Lady. The distinction is commonly made in the introduction to modern editions of the sonnets in order to avoid suggesting that Shakespeare was homosexual.
Sonnet 101 is one of 154 sonnets written by the English playwright and poet William Shakespeare. It is a member of the Fair Youth sequence, in which the poet expresses his love towards a young man. The three other internal sequences include the procreation sonnets (1–17), the Rival Poet sequence (78–86) and the Dark Lady sequence (127–154). While the exact date of composition of Sonnet 101 is unknown, scholars generally agree that the group of Sonnets 61–103 was written mainly in the first half of the 1590s and was not revised before being published with the complete sequence of sonnets in the 1609 Quarto.
Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature.
Nationality words link to articles with information on the nation's poetry or literature.
The Dark Lady is a woman described in Shakespeare's sonnets and so called because the poems make it clear that she has black wiry hair and dark, brown, "dun" coloured skin. The description of the Dark Lady distinguishes itself from the Fair Youth sequence by being overtly sexual. Among these, Sonnet 151 has been characterised as "bawdy" and is used to illustrate the difference between the spiritual love for the Fair Youth and the sexual love for the Dark Lady. The distinction is commonly made in the introduction to modern editions of the sonnets. As with the Fair Youth sequence, there have been many attempts to identify her with a real historical individual. A widely held scholarly opinion, however, is that the "dark lady" is nothing more than a construct of Shakespeare's imagination and art, and any attempt to identify her with a real person is "pointless".