In 1609, toward the end of Shakespeare’s theatre career, but while he was still alive, a publisher released the 154-strong collection of his (never before seen) sonnets, apparently without his permission.
Two-thirds of Shakespeare’s sonnets appear to be dedicated to a man; golden-haired, young, aristocratic and fickle. Of the rest, all but two are dedicated to a dark-haired woman with promiscuous habits (that he refers to as his ‘mistress’).
Through the ages, critics have struggled to accept that the golden-haired man and the dark-haired mistress could possibly be imagined but…there is no evidence at all that either person was a real person with whom Shakespeare had an actual, real relationship of any kind.
Maybe he was just a poet.
Taken from The Great Courses’ Shakespeare: The Word and the Action