Top 10 Greatest Lovers in Shakespeare – Number 1



Our countdown of the greatest romantic couples in Shakespeare concludes today, as we reveal our number one.

Compiled by Andy McLean


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Shakespeare’s writing about romance and heartbreak extended beyond the stage. His sonnets also explored the exhilarating, confounding and irresistible effects of love – and many of these were addressed to, or written about, a young man.

Academic Dr Huw Griffiths from the University of Sydney nominates the poet himself and the “lovely boy” as the greatest lovers in Shakespeare’s canon. He makes a compelling case: “The sonnets provide us with an understanding of love that can never quite be adequately captured, but which is also being endlessly renewed: a desire that always redeems us from the melancholy that it has plunged us into,” says Griffiths.

“In doing this, the sonnets exemplify as much as describe, the effects of love, lust and desire: ‘What is your substance, whereof are you made, / That millions of strange shadows on you tend?’”

The sonnets appear to be deeply personal expressions of love, loss and longing. Their power lies in their sincerity and that’s one reason that they still resonate so strongly, centuries after they were written. It’s also why we chose the poet himself and his mysterious young man as our number one romantic couple in Shakespeare’s canon.

Greatest Lovers: Numbers 10, 9, 8, 7, 6
Greatest Lovers: Numbers 5, 4, 3, 2

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