In her new book Shakespeare’s Friends Revealed, author Beryl Hughes claims that Shakespeare’s writings were inspired by his friendship with Father Robert Southwell, a Jesuit priest. She believes Southwell had a forbidden relationship with Anne Bellamy and asserts that the two fit the identities of the Dark Lady and the Fair Youth in Shakespeare’s sonnets. “This book puts forward a theory which fits in exactly with all the words in the sonnets and with historically recorded facts. There is no firm evidence, but this theory reveals a fascinating and tragic story which will be very difficult to discredit,” she says, adding “It appears to me that a Shakespeare myth has been perpetuated which has blinded [people], even those who have come near to seeing the myth.”
Hughes has been researching the historical implications of a relationship between Bellamy and Southwell since the 1970’s. She builds upon this premise by analyzing Hamlet through the lens of their relationship with the two cast as Hamlet and Ophelia. Hughes also discusses Shakespeare’s religious affiliation, asserting that Shakespeare was a Roman Catholic, facilitating his friendship with Father Southwell.