But of course biographical analysis focuses much more on identifying the protagonists by hints dropped in the poems, and from discovering the mysterious dedicatee, one “Mr W.H.”.
Henry Wriothesley, third Earl of Southampton, Shakespeare’s patron, almost fits here (his initials are H.W. rather than W.H.). The argument runs that Shakespeare began writing sonnets to Southampton in the early 1590s, when the theatres were closed due to plague in 1592-4, and at the same time dedicated his two long poems to Southampton. Particular biographical hints about Southampton and punning on his name might fit. Shakespeare then recycled this work for William Herbert, the third Earl of Pembroke, to create a composite “Young Man” figure.
THE CASE APPEARS STRONG. BUT THEN AGAIN, IT ASSUMES THAT PARTICULAR PERSONS ARE INVOLVED …