Attached is a press release from the book's author, Helen Gordon. I'm intrigued by several things in her note -- that the 17 "procreation sonnets" were actually written to Shakespeare's own (unacknowledged) son, and that she reveals the identity of the Dark Lady. Surely not the first book to take a crack at either of those two mysteries, but it's always fun to add fuel to the fire.
Personally I think I take what I called the "Kenneth Burke" position, after reading Scott Newstok's book: "So far as I am concerned, even the Sonnets seem to me so thoroughly literary an invention, I cannot find in them the slightest guarantee that the poet, in his role as citizen and tax-payer, was involved in that inventive triangle with a dark lady and a fair-haired boy. Or at least, if there were two such people in his personal life, one can feel sure that, in the sonnets, they were transformed, or pointed up, for specifically literary purposes."
But that's just my position, others are certainly welcome to form their own.
Press Release and Book Review
Helen Heightsman Gordon’s book, The Secret Love Story in Shakespeare’s Sonnets, 2nd edition, has won a finalist award in the category of “Best New Nonfiction Books of 2008” in a national contest sponsored by USA Book News, a monthly electronic magazine covering books from mainstream and independent publishers to the world online community. Complete list of category winners can be found at www.USABookNews.com .
Book: The Secret Love Story in Shakespeare’s Sonnets, second edition (Xlibris, 2008). ISBN 978-1-4134-9375-7 (hardback), ISBN 978-1-4134-9474-0 (paperback)
Author: Helen Heightsman Gordon, M. A., Ed. D.
William Shakespeare unlocked his heart in his sonnets. His poems tell a beautiful love story that could not have been told in his lifetime. But he left a message for future generations to decode in the Dedication to the Sonnets. He had openly dedicated two published narrative poems to Henry Wriothesley, the Third Earl of Southampton, in 1593-94. But why did he dedicate the Sonnets to him in the form of a riddle in 1609? Now, 400 years later, the story can be told.
Helen Heightsman Gordon’s new book, The Secret Love Story in Shakespeare’s Sonnets, second edition [Xlibris, 2008], proposes a solution to that riddle and offers fresh interpretations of the sonnets. Once we realize that “William Shakespeare” is a pen name (like “Mark Twain”), most of the mysteries can be solved. In the last 90 years, scholars have identified the author who used that pen name -- Edward De Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, the favorite playwright in Queen Elizabeth’s court. Oxford had two sons out of wedlock, one of whom was Henry Wriothesley, also known as the “Fair Youth” of the sonnets.
To bypass the spies and censors, Oxford used secret codes and symbols of the ethical societies known as Rosicrucians and Freemasons. In the Dedication he has encrypted his true name (De Vere) , the name of his natural son (Henry Wriothesley), the name of Henry’s mother, and the mottos of all three. The pen name “William Shakespeare” was a literary device needed to protect the author’s identity, the mother’s reputation, and the son’s life.
We can now solve other mysteries of the Sonnets that have not been satisfactorily explained until now. Professor Gordon names the Fair Youth, the Dark Lady, (Ladies) and the Rival Poet(s) who give the sonnet collection its narrative qualities. Gordon has researched her subject for 20 years and has also published numerous books, articles, poetry, and humor.