(Hannah Furness’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 6/1.)

He may be Britain's greatest writer, celebrated 400 years on for his body of plays and sonnets.

But William Shakespeare left one other long-forgotten legacy, it has been claimed: bringing erotic poetry to housewives.

Germaine Greer, the feminist academic who lectures on Shakespeare, said the writer should be credited with introducing naughty poems to women and servants for the first time.

Speaking at Hay Festival, sponsored by the Telegraph, she said Shakespeare in fact rose to fame for his Venus and Adonis, a "perverse, erotic, burlesque", which became a huge bestseller among ordinary women.

Shakespeare should not just be remembered for his plays, Greer argues "This is something you won't have heard anyone say before, and I'm going to say it to you now," Prof Greer told an audience.


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