NEWS

2012-01-08

Shakespeare was bisexual

SHAKESPEARE has been branded bisexual in a shocking claim by a Bard expert - who says people should 'get over it'.

The extraordinary claim by Professor Stanley Wells, President of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, comes after Sir Ian McKellen controversially stated there was “no doubt“ that William Shakespeare had sex with men. 

And Professor Wells has backed the Lord of the Rings star's comments and said people should "get over it".

“Of course Sir Ian is by no means the first to say so,“ said Prof Wells. “It goes back centuries, especially because some of Shakespeare's sonnets are unquestionably addressed to a male.

“Shakespeare had three children so clearly was not wholly gay. But he may have loved men as well as women.

“As the T-shirt that Sir Ian sometimes wears says, `Some people are gay. Get over it'!“ 

McKellen said: “No doubt Shakespeare was gay. 

"His predilection was evident from his works. Married, with children, he left his wife in Stratford to live in London. I'd say he slept with men.

“The Merchant of Venice centres on how the world treats gays as well as Jews, and has a love triangle between an older man, younger man and a woman.

“The complexity in his comedies with cross-dressing and disguises is immense. 

"Shakespeare obviously enjoyed sex with men as well as women.“

Within six months of their marriage Anne Hathaway gave birth to the couple's first daughter in May 1583. Two years later they had twins Hamnet and Judith.

But those who believe the Bard is bisexual say they have found plenty of evidence in his  literary works to back up their claims despite his marriage and children.

Rumours about Shakespeare's alleged homosexuality have abounded since the nineteenth century, mostly because his sonnets are addressed to both a young man and a woman.

While the identity of the young man is hotly disputed by academics, there are enough clues in the famous collection of love poems for literary experts to suggest that he may have been interested in both men and women.

Those who believe Shakespeare was bisexual point to his play The Merchant of Venice and the relationship between the aging Antonio and his young companion Bassanio. 

It is often cited as an example of latent homosexuality in one of Shakespeare's most celebrated plays.

In one scene Antonio tells his young `friend': “My purse, my person, my extremest means, Lie all unlocked to your occasions.“ 

There is also passion between men in Shakespeare's Henry V with a battlefield scene between the Duke of York and Earl of Suffolk allegedly carrying homoerotic undertones.

The passage reads: “So did he turn and over Suffolk's neck; He threw his wounded arm and kiss'd his lips; And so espoused to death, with blood he seal'd; A testament of noble-ending love.“

In sonnet 20 Shakespeare describes his friend as: “A man in hue all hues in his controlling; Which steals men's eyes and women's souls amazeth.“

The love poem seems to end with Shakespeare asking the man to save his love for him: “But since she prick'd thee out for women's pleasure; Mine be thy love and thy love's use their treasure.“

The claim is set to challenge the public's widely held belief that Shakepeare was simply heterosexual, with a wife and children.