THE DARK LADY

 

After the death of her father, Emilia Lanier went to live with Susan Bertie, Countess of Kent where she was given a humanist education and became the mistress of a Tudor courtier and cousin to Queen Elizabeth I, Henry Carey. Henry and Emilia immediately fall in love and it is he who sees her talent as writer. Encouraging her on to write plays, as he had been Elizabeth’s Lord Chamberlain and patron of the arts and theatre, he saw the potential of her plays being before at the theatre. However, when Emilia suddenly becomes pregnant, Henry sees to it very quickly that she marry her first cousin once removed. Heartbroken by the abrupt ending of their relationship, she continues to see her chance and hope in writing plays as Henry still pays her for pursuing her creative writing. When, however, she learns that Henry stole the plays to give it to an actor of the theatre group, William Shakespeare, her devastation takes a toll on her. She tries to support herself by running a school but disputes over the rental led to her being arrested. As a result, parents then proved unwilling to send their children to a woman with a history of arrest and Lanier's aspirations of running a prosperous school came to an end. While she would never receive acknowledgment for writing the plays, she made one last attempt to publish a volume of poetry – she would become the first woman in England to declare herself a poet.