Sunday, February 14, 2016

Aemilia Bassano

Amelia Bassano Lanier was born in 1569. She was a converso (clandestine Jew) and the illegitimate daughter of an Italian-born, Elizabethan court musician Baptiste Bassano. She was for several years the mistress of Henry Carey, 1st Baron Hunsdon, first cousin of Elizabeth I of England. Carey became the patron of the Lord Chamberlain's Men, the theatre company which performed the Shakespearean plays after 1594. A number of commentators have concluded that it cannot be just coincidence that in Shakespeare's two Venetian plays, there is an Emilia in one (Othello) and a Bassan(i)o in the other (The Merchant of Venice). British historian A.L. Rowse suggested that Bassano, with her family’s Mediterranean skin colouring, was the famous “dark lady of the sonnets,”. In 1611, Amelia Lanier published her volume of poetry, Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum. Lanier was forty-two years old at the time and the first woman in England to declare herself a poet. Reference 1, Reference 2