Sir Ian McKellen on:
A Queer King Of England
At school, we learnt about King James I of England. We were told about his supervision of the King James' Authorised Version of the Bible, published in 1611. We read his pamphlet against smoking and another one about witches. This may have encouraged Shakespeare to write "Macbeth," at a time when King James was patron of the acting company at the Globe Theatre, where the play was first staged. What nobody told us was that, behind King James's back, his courtiers used to call him "Queen James."
When James was my age, he wrote a letter to his lover George Villiers, who was 31 years old:
"My only sweet and dear child- Notwithstanding of your desiring me not to write yesterday, I cannot content myself without sending you this present, praying God that I may have a joyful and comfortable meeting with you and that we may make at this Christmas a new marriage, ever to be kept hereafter. For, God so love me, as I desire only to live in this world for your sake and that I had as rather live banished in any part of the earth with you, than I live a sorrowful widow's life without you. And so God bless you, my sweet child and wife and grant that ye may ever be a comfort to your dear dad and husband - James. "