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.
William Shakespeare was born in 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, the third of John Shakespeare and Mary Arden's eight children. At the age of eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway. By 1592, he had started his career in the theatre, and continued to write plays until 1613. In addition to his thirty-eight plays, he left behind one hundred and fifty-four sonnets and two narrative poems. His works are considered to be among the highest achievements in English literature, and have been translated into every major living language. England's national poet died on the 23rd of April 1616.