Author says Shakespeare was 'secret Catholic sect member'
William Shakespeare led a secret double life as a member of a banned Catholic sect, according to claims in a new book.
German professor Hildegard Hammerschmidt-Hummel says the Bard's works should be reinterpreted in the light of his secret religious allegiance. Her book claims Shakespeare helped organise forbidden Catholic missionary trips to England at a time when they were illegal.
The professor has based her book on newly-discovered text and pictures from the time, including writings by Shakespeare's friends.
She says the Bard studied at a Catholic college in Flanders because such schools were banned by Henry VIII's Reformation.
She claims other students at the exile college wrote about him in their year books and that the lost years of Shakespeare's life, between 1585 and 1592, included at least three trips to Rome.
"In the light of Shakespeare's until now unknown religious confession, and his banned engagement for the Catholic church, parts of his work should be re-assessed and the biography of the playwright should be re-written," says Professor Hammerschmidt-Hummel.
Her allegations come just weeks after analysis of clay pipes found near Shakespeare's home in Stratford-upon-Avon turned up traces of cannabis and cocaine, leading to suspicion that he could have been a drug-taker.