His claim in 1973 that the Dark Lady was Emilia Lanier, mistress of Queen Elizabeth's Lord Chamberlain, provoked great controversy and is still challenged by other historians.
Mr Rowse, who was 93, was a renowned Elizabethan historian whose books, with their common touch, became classic texts.
He was born Alfred Leslie Rowse, the son of a St Austell china clay worker, and at the age of 17 won the only university scholarship in the whole of Cornwall.
After studying at Christ Church, Oxford, he was elected a Fellow of All Souls, a distinction which he was later to identify as the happiest moment of his life.
He went on to publish more than 50 books, including many on Cornish affairs, and twice stood unsuccessfully as a Labour Party Parliamentary candidate.Reuse content