Amelia Bassano was born in 1569 into a family of Venetian Jews who were court musicians to Queen Elizabeth I. At about the age of thirteen, she became mistress to the fifty-six-year-old Lord Hunsdon, Henry VIII's reputed son by Mary Boleyn. As Lord Chamberlain, Hunsdon was in charge of the English theatre and would become the patron of the company that performed the Shakespearean plays. Amelia lived with him for a decade, during which time she also had an affair with the playwright Christopher Marlowe. When she became pregnant, Amelia was exiled from court and next surfaces as the mysterious 'dark lady' in Shakespeare's sonnets. At the age of forty-two, she became the first woman to publish a book of original poetry, employing linguistic features resembling the later Shakespearean plays. Amelia died in poverty in 1645. Drawing upon a wealth of documentary evidence, this controversial and provocative book unites Tudor history, feminism, and Shakespeare scholarship to demonstrate that Amelia Bassano was in all the right places and had all the right knowledge, skills, and contacts to have produced the Shakespearean canon.
Controversial and provocative - well researched book' -- DR CATHERINE ALEXANDER, editor of The Cambridge Shakespeare Library An amazing character - well worth the study' -- MARK RYLANCE Hudson's historical sleuthing and careful speculation make the Lanier theory at least as plausible as most of the others - Well researched, fascinating and thought-provoking.' KIRKUS REVIEWS The case for Amelia Bassano Lanier is as plausible as Shakespeare's.' -- MICHAEL POSNER The circumstances of Amelia's life, the knowledge she could have picked up from them, and aspects of her own writings all fit numerous features of the plays well.' -- DR DAVID LASOCKI, co-author of The Bassanos We have to re-think everything we know about Shakespeare.' -- DR JANE GABIN Once we see Amelia through John Hudson's eyes, we can never again read 'Shakespeare' without seeing Amelia's hand and heart in the plays.' -- PROF. ELLEN FAITH BRODIE Marvelous and revolutionary. I read it with awe and reverence and a feeling of real excitement in my guts.' -- VICKY McMAHON
John Hudson is a Shakespeare director. He received a First from the University of Exeter and a graduate degree with merit in Shakespeare and Theatre from the Shakespeare Institute at the University of Birmingham. He teaches advanced and experimental Shakespeare to actors at H. B. Studios, and directs one of the world's most innovative Shakespeare companies, the Dark Lady Players, in New York City.