Copyright  Andrew B Harris (2014)

Phyllis Cundy

A native Cornish woman who was employed by Rowse as a housekeeper. Having contracted polio as a child, she habitually walked with a limp. She also always wore her hair in a bun.

Simon Forman

An Elizabethan era astrologer who kept detailed records of his clients. Rowse's claims about the Dark Lady were based on Forman's casebooks, which are in the Bodleian Library at Oxford. For more information on Forman and his writings, visit:

Will Shakespeare

Poet, actor, servant to the Earl of Southampton.

Earl of Southampton

Shakespeare's patron. Rowse believed that Shakespeare wrote the Sonnets for the Earl.

A.L. Rowse

Prolific author, Oxford historian, and poet.  Mired in contention, especially over his claims about Shakespeare and the Dark Lady, Rowse turned out more than a book per year writing well over a hundred titles.  His oeuvre includes history, poetry, reminisces, and biographies of people and cats.   Born to an illiterate clay miner, Rowse climbed his way up the academic ladder and worked hard to overcome his lowly upbringing.  Yet the recognition he sought came very late, only after a life-threatening stroke was he awarded the CH (Companion of Honor), not the knighthood he so richly deserved.  For a good summary of Rowse's life, see his obituary.

John Sparrow

The Warden of All Souls College, 1952-1977. Both Rowse and Sparrow were considered for the wardenship, which left a sense a rivalry between them throughout their shared time at Oxford.

Emilia Bassano Lanier

A client of Simon Forman, Emilia was a mistress of the Lord Chamberlain, the head of Shakespeare's theatre company. This, among other facts about Emilia, led A.L. Rowse to believe that she was the Dark Lady of Shakespeare's Sonnets. Because of Rowse's work, she is now known primarily as the first woman to publish a book of her own poems in the English language. For more about Emilia and Shakespeare, read Rowse's book Shakespeare the Man, Anne Cuneo’s French novel, Objects de Splendeur, or visit:


CV Wedgwood

Older female, English aristocrat.  Great, great … granddaughter of Josiah Wedgewood, the potter.  A.L. Rowse’s most eminent, early student at Oxford.  C.V. in time became Lady Veronica, respected for her knowledge and published works on 17th Century English history, literature, and art. 

Photo of Phyllis Cundy with Prince Charles

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