LONDON (AP) _ A.L. Rowse, historian, Shakespeare scholar and eminent authority on Tudor England, has died at the age of 93.

Rowse, who suffered a stroke last year, died at his home in Cornwall, southwest England, on Friday, his secretary Valerie Brockenshire said today.

``He died with the greatest of dignity,'' Mrs. Brockenshire said.

The author of some 90 volumes of history, poetry and biography, plus more than two dozen as-yet-unpublished diaries, Rowse was made a Companion of Honor in 1996 _ a royal honor bestowed for ``conspicuous national service.''

He was also the author of a widely disparaged theory about the identity of William Shakespeare's beloved Dark Lady of the sonnets.

Rowse's eccentricity _ a self-regard so extreme that it seemed almost contrived _ in later years overshadowed his undoubted achievements.

A proud Cornishman of the working class, he was a historian whose work was widely popular because of its readability.

Always openly homosexual, a Marxist turned conservative and twice a loser as a Labor Party candidate for Parliament in the 1930s, he was never less than colorful.

``This country's past is infinitely more fascinating than its future,'' Rowse told The Times in 1983. ``The only thing to do with a filthy society is to turn your back on it. I am an internal exile.''

Although he continued to write while in his nineties, most of what was written about him concerned his personality and his repeated declarations that his was a first-rate mind in a world of second- and third-raters.