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Full Online Book HomePlaysDark Lady Of The Sonnets - PREFACE TO THE DARK LADY OF THE SONNETS - How the Play came to be Written
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Dark Lady Of The Sonnets - PREFACE TO THE DARK LADY OF THE SONNETS - How the Play came to be Written Post by :WCarmier Category :Plays Author :George Bernard Shaw Date :May 2011 Read :2391

Click below to download : Dark Lady Of The Sonnets - PREFACE TO THE DARK LADY OF THE SONNETS - How the Play came to be Written (Format : PDF)

Dark Lady Of The Sonnets - PREFACE TO THE DARK LADY OF THE SONNETS - How the Play came to be Written

I had better explain why, in this little _piece d'occasion_, written
for a performance in aid of the funds of the project for establishing
a National Theatre as a memorial to Shakespear, I have identified the
Dark Lady with Mistress Mary Fitton. First, let me say that I do not
contend that the Dark Lady was Mary Fitton, because when the case in
Mary's favor (or against her, if you please to consider that the Dark
Lady was no better than she ought to have been) was complete, a
portrait of Mary came to light and turned out to be that of a fair
lady, not of a dark one. That settles the question, if the portrait
is authentic, which I see no reason to doubt, and the lady's hair
undyed, which is perhaps less certain. Shakespear rubbed in the
lady's complexion in his sonnets mercilessly; for in his day black
hair was as unpopular as red hair was in the early days of Queen
Victoria. Any tinge lighter than raven black must be held fatal to
the strongest claim to be the Dark Lady. And so, unless it can be
shewn that Shakespear's sonnets exasperated Mary Fitton into dyeing
her hair and getting painted in false colors, I must give up all
pretence that my play is historical. The later suggestion of Mr
Acheson that the Dark Lady, far from being a maid of honor, kept a
tavern in Oxford and was the mother of Davenant the poet, is the one I
should have adopted had I wished to be up to date. Why, then, did I
introduce the Dark Lady as Mistress Fitton?

Well, I had two reasons. The play was not to have been written by me
at all, but by Mrs Alfred Lyttelton; and it was she who suggested a
scene of jealousy between Queen Elizabeth and the Dark Lady at the
expense of the unfortunate Bard. Now this, if the Dark Lady was a
maid of honor, was quite easy. If she were a tavern landlady, it
would have strained all probability. So I stuck to Mary Fitton. But
I had another and more personal reason. I was, in a manner, present
at the birth of the Fitton theory. Its parent and I had become
acquainted; and he used to consult me on obscure passages in the
sonnets, on which, as far as I can remember, I never succeeded in
throwing the faintest light, at a time when nobody else thought my
opinion, on that or any other subject, of the slightest importance. I
thought it would be friendly to immortalize him, as the silly literary
saying is, much as Shakespear immortalized Mr W. H., as he said he
would, simply by writing about him.

Let me tell the story formally.

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