Did Shakespeare have a secret son?

Share via

William Shakespeare had a secret son who grew up to become the poet laureate of England, according to the author of a new biography.

In his new book “Shakespeare’s Bastard: The Life of Sir William Davenant,” biographer Simon Andrew Stirling claims that the Bard of Avon was the father of poet and playwright Davenant, the Australian reports.

Stirling says that Davenant was the son of Shakespeare and Jane Davenant, a married tavern mistress. Shakespeare was married to Anne Hathaway; the couple had three children: Susanna; Hamnet, who died at 11; and Judith. Many have speculated that the marriage was not a happy one; in his will, Shakespeare famously left his wife his “second best bed.”


See more of our top stories on Facebook >>

Shakespeare was Davenant’s godfather. But Stirling argues the two were biologically related, pointing to pictures of the two that indicate they both had a “droopy left eyebrow.”

Stirling claims that Shakespeare’s famous Sonnet 126 was written for Davenant. The poem, which many have speculated was about a gay lover of Shakespeare, reads in part, “O thou, my lovely boy, who in thy power / Dost hold Time’s fickle glass, his sickle, hour; / Who hast by waning grown, and therein show’st / Thy lovers withering as thy sweet self grow’st...”

“The poem appears to have been written to a very young child whose birth caused his mother’s full-moon belly to wane,” Stirling writes.

The Daily Mail notes that the rumor of Shakespeare’s secret son has been around for a while. It was repeated by novelist Samuel Butler, who once remarked, “It seemed to [Davenant] that he writ with the very same spirit that Shakespeare [did], and seemed content enough to be called his son.”

Davenant, who is perhaps best known for his plays “The Wits” and “The Playhouse to Be Let,” died in 1668.



A visit to the Floating Library in Echo Park Lake

A legacy of 400 pulp porno novels: Chris Offutt’s revealing ‘My Father, the Pornographer’

In ‘A Mother’s Reckoning,’ Sue Klebold tries to make sense of her son and Columbine