Dark Lady: A Novel of Emilia Bassano Lanyer
Emilia Bassano is a true paradox. She is a woman about whom much was recorded but little is truly known. Born into a family of outwardly converted Jewish court musicians, she was fostered and educated in the home of the Countess of Kent. It is within these court circles that she meets the men who will bring her great joy and immense pain and shape her life: Lord Hunsdon, the nobleman who makes her his mistress; Alfonso Lanyer, the musician who makes her his wife; and William Shakespeare, the player who makes her his muse. All three men were selfish in their own ways and ignorant of her exceptional gifts. It wouldn’t be until much later in her life that she would publish a work of her own and give the future a glimpse into the difficulties that faced many Elizabethan women.
In Dark Lady, Charlene Ball fleshes out the fascinating Bassano, a brilliant poet in her own right but also one of the central figures in the Shakespearean authorship question. Ball has done painstaking research but has also presented us with a pleasantly readable book. Her characters are vividly painted and leave us wishing to spend more time in the remarkable Emilia’s company.
She Writes Press