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A selection of Shakespeare's beautiful, immortal verse
William Shakespeare is thought to have written his sonnets for a private audience over several years before they were first published in 1609. The verses that compose the sonnets are often subversive, elusive and intimate, shaping an erotic body of poetry in the pursuit of the depths of emotion. Shakespeare's Sonnets express both the narrator's pure love for a 'fair youth , and his uncontrollable desire for a dark lady. There has been much debate concerning the identity of the individuals to whom the sonnets are addressed, and the mysterious dedication "To the onlie begetter of these insuing sonnets Mr W Hall happinesse and that eternitie promised by our ever-living poet wisheth the well-wishing adventurer in setting forth", which appears in the 1609 edition, offers no clear evidence. Shakespeare's sonnets are among the finest ever written in English.
Cover illustration by Raphael
Published 29 February 2008