Books: The Sonnet Investigator

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE by A. L. Rowse. 485 pages. Harper & Row. $6.95.

Not a single letter from Shakespeare is known to exist. Only one letter to him—a plea from a Stratford acquaintance for £30—is on record. Such facts of his life as can be ascertained from Stratford town records and a handful of references to him by folk in Elizabethan London can easily be (and, in fact, are) completely set down in a few columns of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. But for decades scholars have felt compelled to spin these few threads into an overblown fabric...

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