The only kind of sexual intercourse we “know” Shakespeare had was heterosexual—with the wife who bore his twins, Judith and Hamnet. In the absence of genetic samples, though, we can’t rule out cuckoldry. Or, for that matter, immaculate conception. The majority of speculation regarding Shakespeare’s sexuality derives from the segment of the sonnet sequence addressed to a male. The sonnets, we like to think, must be “personal.” Yet this involves the assumption that Shakespeare was capable of personal poetry, that is, of self-expression—as opposed to being permeable, protean, in Borges’s felicitous formulation “everyone and no one.” The “internal evidence” of the sonnets “suggests” that Shakespeare was homosexual or bisexual, unless he was heterosexual and only writing homoerotically.
Reader, you are in luck. The speculation can end. I have the definitive statement on this matter. It turns out that the “secret” to Shakespeare’s sexuality lies in the plays. Shakespeare was (drum roll please) hermaphroditic.
That’s right. Inserting his tumescent vowels between his own trembling consonants, he inseminated himself repeatedly and bore the vast family that includes Macduff, Benvolio, Miranda, Rosencrantz, and sundry others still alive today. In fact, the plays offer internal evidence that Shakespeare was the common ancestor of the English royal family and the Julio-Claudian emperors.
Thanks to his knack for progenerative onanism, he was as prolific as Ramses. Like any mother, he couldn’t choose among his children, loving them all, even his Iagos and Edmunds. As a father, however, he was often distant, leaving his gentlest daughters, Cordelia and Desdemona, to very cruel fates—when he could have saved them with the stroke of a pen.
Shakespeare appears to have enjoyed asexual reproduction immensely, as we can see from the delight he takes in wordplay and deep feeling. Even the most oversexed literary hermaphrodites (Balzac, Tolstoy) were able to give birth to only a fraction of the Shakespearean grand total.
If we were to draw the Shakespeare family tree, a single line would connect Shakespeare and Shakespeare. From the line’s midpoint, a spokewheel of lines would radiate, each terminating in a character. If we were to phrase it in Old Testament terms, it would read something like, And Shakespeare begat Falstaff upon Shakespeare, and Shakespeare begat Titania upon Shakespeare, and Shakespeare begat Coriolanus upon Shakespeare—and so on for several 8-point-font columns in our Gideon Bible’s apocryphal Book of Bards.
Critics, readers, and performers worldwide can begin the great task ahead of us: reexperiencing, and reinterpreting, Shakespeare’s corpus (that is, his body of work) in light of this startling new revelation. Shakespeare the dramatist wrote women so well because he was female. When Shakespeare the sonneteer wrote love sonnets to a man, he was writing as a female to himself. Similarly, the question of the Dark Lady’s identity is solved: The Dark Lady of the Sonnets was Shakespeare. And Shakespeare begat Shakespeare upon Shakespeare.