(Hannah Furness’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 1/8.)
The seductive Dark Lady who inspired some of Shakespeare's most famous and explicit sonnets has remained a mystery for centuries.
Now, one expert has claimed to have finally identified the elusive woman, revealing her to be the wanton wife of an Italian translator.
The hitherto secret identify of Shakespeare's mistress has troubled literary historians, who believe she inspired sonnets 127 to 154 and some of his most memorable lines.
Dr Aubrey Burl, a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, now believes she can be revealed as Aline Florio, the wife of an Italian translator, who "loved for her own gratification", "hurt and harmed poets and earls", and indulged in "temptation and callously self-satisfied betrayal of her husband".