Anne Hathaway (Shakespeare)

Anne Hathaway (Shakespeare)

Overview
Anne Hathaway was the wife of William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

. They were married in 1582. She outlived her husband by seven years. Very little is known about her beyond a few references in legal documents, but her personality and relationship to Shakespeare have been the subject of much speculation by historians and creative writers.

Anne Hathaway is believed to have grown up in Shottery
Shottery
Shottery is a small village a mile west of Stratford-Upon-Avon; nowadays, it is considered a part of the town, but it retains the feeling of a distinct village.-History and amenities:...

, a small village just to the west of Stratford-upon-Avon
Stratford-upon-Avon
Stratford-upon-Avon is a market town and civil parish in south Warwickshire, England. It lies on the River Avon, south east of Birmingham and south west of Warwick. It is the largest and most populous town of the District of Stratford-on-Avon, which uses the term "on" to indicate that it covers...

, Warwickshire
Warwickshire
Warwickshire is a landlocked non-metropolitan county in the West Midlands region of England. The county town is Warwick, although the largest town is Nuneaton. The county is famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare...

, England.
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Encyclopedia
Anne Hathaway was the wife of William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

. They were married in 1582. She outlived her husband by seven years. Very little is known about her beyond a few references in legal documents, but her personality and relationship to Shakespeare have been the subject of much speculation by historians and creative writers.

Life


Anne Hathaway is believed to have grown up in Shottery
Shottery
Shottery is a small village a mile west of Stratford-Upon-Avon; nowadays, it is considered a part of the town, but it retains the feeling of a distinct village.-History and amenities:...

, a small village just to the west of Stratford-upon-Avon
Stratford-upon-Avon
Stratford-upon-Avon is a market town and civil parish in south Warwickshire, England. It lies on the River Avon, south east of Birmingham and south west of Warwick. It is the largest and most populous town of the District of Stratford-on-Avon, which uses the term "on" to indicate that it covers...

, Warwickshire
Warwickshire
Warwickshire is a landlocked non-metropolitan county in the West Midlands region of England. The county town is Warwick, although the largest town is Nuneaton. The county is famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare...

, England. She is assumed to have grown up in the farmhouse that was the Hathaway family home, which is located at Shottery and is now a major tourist attraction for the village. Her father, Richard Hathaway, was a yeoman
Yeoman
Yeoman refers chiefly to a free man owning his own farm, especially from the Elizabethan era to the 17th century. Work requiring a great deal of effort or labor, such as would be done by a yeoman farmer, came to be described as "yeoman's work"...

 farmer. He died in September 1581 and left Anne the sum of £6 13s 4d (six pounds, thirteen shillings and fourpence) to be paid "at the day of her marriage".

Wedding


Hathaway married Shakespeare in November 1582 while pregnant with the couple's first child, to whom she gave birth six months later. Hathaway was 26 years of age; Shakespeare was only 18. This age difference, together with Hathaway's antenuptial pregnancy, has been employed by some historians as evidence that it was a "shotgun wedding", forced on a reluctant Shakespeare by the Hathaway family. There is, however, no evidence for this inference.

For a time it was believed that this view could be supported by documents from the Episcopal Register at Worcester, which records in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 the issuing of a wedding licence to "Wm Shaxpere" and one "Annam Whateley" of Temple Grafton
Temple Grafton
Temple Grafton is a village and civil parish in the Stratford district of Warwickshire, England, situated about east of Alcester and West of the county town of Warwick. The place name is misleading, the Knights Templar never having any association with the place but owing to a naming error made...

. The day afterwards, Fulk Sandells and John Richardson, friends of the Hathaway family from Stratford, signed a surety
Surety
A surety or guarantee, in finance, is a promise by one party to assume responsibility for the debt obligation of a borrower if that borrower defaults...

 of £40 as a financial guarantee for the wedding of "William Shagspere and Anne Hathwey". Frank Harris
Frank Harris
Frank Harris was a Irish-born, naturalized-American author, editor, journalist and publisher, who was friendly with many well-known figures of his day...

, in The Man Shakespeare (1909), argued that these documents are evidence that Shakespeare was involved with two women. He had chosen to marry one Anne Whateley
Anne Whateley
Anne Whateley is the name of a woman who is sometimes supposed to have been the intended wife of William Shakespeare before he married Anne Hathaway. Most scholars believe that Whateley never existed, but that her name in a document concerning Shakespeare's marriage is merely a clerical error...

, but, when this became known, he was immediately forced by Hathaway's family to marry their pregnant relative. Harris believed that "Shakespeare's loathing for his wife was measureless" because of his entrapment by her, and that this was the spur to his decision to leave Stratford and pursue a career in the theatre.

However, according to Stanley Wells
Stanley Wells
Stanley William Wells, CBE, is a Shakespeare scholar and Chairman of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.Wells took his first degree at University College, London, and was awarded an honorary DLitt by the University of Warwick in 2008...

, writing in the Oxford Companion to Shakespeare, most modern scholars take the view that the name Whateley was "almost certainly the result of clerical error".

Germaine Greer
Germaine Greer
Germaine Greer is an Australian writer, academic, journalist and scholar of early modern English literature, widely regarded as one of the most significant feminist voices of the later 20th century....

 argues that the age difference between Shakespeare and Hathaway is not evidence that he was forced to marry her, but that he was the one who pursued her. Women such as the orphaned Hathaway often stayed at home to care for younger siblings and married in their late twenties. As a husband Shakespeare offered few prospects; his family had fallen into financial ruin, while Anne, from a family in good standing socially and financially, would have been considered a catch. Furthermore, a "handfast
Handfasting
Handfasting is a traditional European ceremony of betrothal or wedding. It usually involved the tying or binding of the right hands of the bride and groom with a cord or ribbon for the duration of the wedding ceremony.-Etymology:...

" marriage and pregnancy were frequent precursors to legal marriage at the time. Shakespeare, certainly, was bound to marry Hathaway, having made her pregnant, but there is no reason to assume that this had not always been his intention. It is nearly certain that the respective families of the bride and groom had known one another.

Married life


Three children were born to Anne, namely Susanna
Susanna Hall
Susanna Hall , née Shakespeare, was the eldest child of William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway, and the older sister of Judith Quiney and Hamnet Shakespeare...

 in 1583, and the twins Hamnet
Hamnet Shakespeare
Hamnet Shakespeare was the only son of William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway, and the fraternal twin of Judith Shakespeare. He died at age 11 of unknown causes. There are several theories on the relationship, if any, between Hamnet and his father's later play Hamlet...

 and Judith
Judith Quiney
Judith Quiney , née Shakespeare, was the youngest daughter of William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway. She married Thomas Quiney, a vintner of Stratford-upon-Avon. The circumstances of the marriage, including Quiney's misconduct, may have prompted the rewriting of Shakespeare's will...

 in 1585. It has often been inferred that Shakespeare came to dislike his wife, but there is no existing documentation or correspondence to support this supposition. For most of their married life, he lived in London, writing and performing his plays, while she remained in Stratford, spiralling in loneliness. However, according to John Aubrey
John Aubrey
John Aubrey FRS, was an English antiquary, natural philosopher and writer. He is perhaps best known as the author of the collection of short biographical pieces usually referred to as Brief Lives...

, he returned to Stratford for a period every year. When he retired from the theatre in 1613, he chose to live in Stratford with his wife, rather than London.

Shakespeare's will


Much has been read into the bequest that Shakespeare famously made in his will, leaving Anne only the "second-best bed". A few explanations have been offered: firstly, it has been claimed that, according to law, Hathaway was entitled to receive one third of her husband's estate, regardless of his will; secondly, it has been speculated that Hathaway was to be supported by her children; and, more recently, Greer has come up with a new explanation based on research into other wills and marriage settlements of the time and place. She disputes the claim that widows were automatically entitled to a third of the estate and suggests that a condition of the marriage of Shakespeare's eldest daughter Susanna to a financially sound husband was probably that Susanna (and thus her husband) inherited the bulk of Shakespeare's estate. This would also explain other examples of Shakespeare's will being apparently ungenerous, as in its treatment of his younger daughter Judith.

Greer also discusses some indications which tend to support speculation that Hathaway may have been financially secure in her own right. The National Archives states that "beds and other pieces of household furniture were often the sole bequest to a wife" and that, customarily, the children would receive the best items and the widow the second-best. In Shakespeare's time, the beds of prosperous citizens were expensive affairs, sometimes equivalent in value to a small house. The bequest was thus not as minor as it might seem by modern standards. In Elizabethan custom the best bed in the house was reserved for guests. If true, then the bed that Shakespeare bequeathed to Anne could have been their marital bed, and thus not intended to insult her

Burial


Hathaway was interred next to her husband in the Church of the Holy Trinity, Stratford-upon-Avon. The inscription states, "Here lyeth the body of Anne wife of William Shakespeare who departed this life the 6th day of August 1623 being of the age of 67 years." A Latin inscription followed which translates as "Breasts, O mother, milk and life thou didst give. Woe is me – for how great a boon shall I give stones? How much rather would I pray that the good angel should move the stone so that, like Christ's body, thine image might come forth! But my prayers are unavailing. Come quickly, Christ, that my mother, though shut within this tomb may rise again and reach the stars." The inscription may have been written by John Hall
John Hall (physician)
John Hall was a physician and son-in-law of William Shakespeare.-Life:He was born at Carlton, Bedfordshire and studied at Queens' College, Cambridge from 1589, receiving a B.A. in 1593 and a M.A. in 1597...

 on behalf of his wife, Anne's daughter, Susanna
Susanna Hall
Susanna Hall , née Shakespeare, was the eldest child of William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway, and the older sister of Judith Quiney and Hamnet Shakespeare...

.

Shakespeare's sonnets


One of Shakespeare's sonnets
Shakespeare's sonnets
Shakespeare's sonnets are 154 poems in sonnet form written by William Shakespeare, dealing with themes such as the passage of time, love, beauty and mortality. All but two of the poems were first published in a 1609 quarto entitled SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS.: Never before imprinted. Sonnets 138 and 144...

, number 145
Sonnet 145
Sonnet 145 one of Shakespeare's sonnets. It forms part of the Dark Lady sequence of sonnets. It is written as a description of the feelings of a man who is so in love with a woman that hearing her say that "she hates" something immediately creates a fear that she is referring to him...

, has been claimed to make reference to Anne Hathaway; the words 'hate away' may be a pun (in Elizabethan pronunciation) on 'Hathaway'. It has also been suggested that the next words, "And saved my life", would have been indistinguishable in pronunciation from "Anne saved my life". The sonnet differs from all the others in the length of the lines. Its fairly simple language and syntax have led to suggestions that it was written much earlier than the other, more mature, sonnets.

Other literature


The following poem about Anne has also been ascribed to Shakespeare, but its language and style are not typical of his verse. It is widely attributed to Charles Dibdin
Charles Dibdin
Charles Dibdin was a British musician, dramatist, novelist, actor and songwriter. The son of a parish clerk, he was born in Southampton on or before 4 March 1745, and was the youngest of a family of 18....

 (1748–1814) and may have been written for the Stratford-upon-Avon
Stratford-upon-Avon
Stratford-upon-Avon is a market town and civil parish in south Warwickshire, England. It lies on the River Avon, south east of Birmingham and south west of Warwick. It is the largest and most populous town of the District of Stratford-on-Avon, which uses the term "on" to indicate that it covers...

 Shakespeare Festival of 1769:

Literature after 1900


A trend in literature on Hathaway in the early twentieth century was to imagine her as a sexually incontinent cradle-snatcher
Age disparity in sexual relationships
Age disparity in sexual relationships refers to sexual relations between people with a significant difference in age. Whether these relationships are accepted and the question of what counts as a significant difference in age has varied over time; and varies over cultures, different legal systems,...

, or, alternatively, a frigid shrew
The Taming of the Shrew
The Taming of the Shrew is a comedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1590 and 1591.The play begins with a framing device, often referred to as the Induction, in which a mischievous nobleman tricks a drunken tinker named Sly into believing he is actually a nobleman himself...

. More recent literature has included more varied representations of her.

An adulterous Anne is imagined by James Joyce
James Joyce
James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century...

's character Stephen Dedalus
Stephen Dedalus
Stephen Dedalus is James Joyce's literary alter ego, appearing as the protagonist and antihero of his first, semi-autobiographical novel of artistic existence A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and an important character in Joyce's Ulysses...

, who makes a number of references to Hathaway. In Ulysses, he speculates that the gift of the infamous "second-best bed" was a punishment for her adultery
Adultery
Adultery is sexual infidelity to one's spouse, and is a form of extramarital sex. It originally referred only to sex between a woman who was married and a person other than her spouse. Even in cases of separation from one's spouse, an extramarital affair is still considered adultery.Adultery is...

, and earlier in the same novel, Dedalus analyses Shakespeare's marriage with a pun
Pun
The pun, also called paronomasia, is a form of word play which suggests two or more meanings, by exploiting multiple meanings of words, or of similar-sounding words, for an intended humorous or rhetorical effect. These ambiguities can arise from the intentional use and abuse of homophonic,...

: "He chose badly? He was chosen, it seems to me. If others have their will Ann hath a way." Anne also appears in Hubert Osborne
Hubert Osborne
Hubert Benjamin Osborne was a Canadian-born playwright and screenwriter who worked in the USA.He was born in Kingston, Ontario and attended Queen's University for two years before progressing to Harvard University...

's The Shakespeare Play (c.1911) and its sequel The Good Men Do (1917), which dramatises a meeting between the newly widowed Anne and her supposed old rival for William's love "Anne Whateley". Anne is depicted as shrewish in the first play, and as spiteful towards her former rival in the latter. A frosty relationship is also portrayed in Edward Bond
Edward Bond
Edward Bond is an English playwright, theatre director, poet, theorist and screenwriter. He is the author of some fifty plays, among them Saved , the production of which was instrumental in the abolition of theatre censorship in the UK...

's play Bingo
Bingo (play)
Bingo: Scenes of Money and Death is a 1973 play by English Marxist playwright Edward Bond. It depicts an aging William Shakespeare at his Warwickshire home in 1615 and 1616, suffering pangs of conscience in part because he signed a contract which protected his landholdings, on the condition that...

(1973), about Shakespeare's last days, and in the 1978 TV series Will Shakespeare
Will Shakespeare (TV series)
Will Shakespeare, also known as Life of Shakespeare, was a 1978 historical drama series created and written by John Mortimer. Broadcast in six parts, the series is a dramatisation of the life of William Shakespeare, and was co-produced by Lew Grade's ATV and RAI and distributed internationally by ITC...

.

The World's Wife, a collection of poems by Carol Ann Duffy
Carol Ann Duffy
Carol Ann Duffy, CBE, FRSL is a Scottish poet and playwright. She is Professor of Contemporary Poetry at the Manchester Metropolitan University, and was appointed Britain's poet laureate in May 2009...

, features a sonnet entitled Anne Hathaway
Anne Hathaway (poem)
Anne Hathaway is a poem by Carol Ann Duffy about Anne Hathaway, the wife of William Shakespeare.This poem, a sonnet, appears in The World's Wife, published in 1999, a collection of poems. The poem is based on the famous passage from Shakespeare's will regarding his "second-best bed"...

, based on the passage from Shakespeare's will regarding his "second-best bed". Duffy chooses the view that this would be their marriage bed, and so a memento of their love, not a slight. Anne remembers their lovemaking as a form of "romance and drama", unlike the "prose" written on the best bed used by guests, "I hold him in the casket of my widow's head/ as he held me upon that next best bed". The couple's sexual adventures on the bed are also described in Robert Nye
Robert Nye
Robert Nye FRSL is an English poet who has also written novels and plays as well as stories for children. His bestselling novel Falstaff published in 1976 was described by Michael Ratcliffe as 'one of the most ambitious and seductive novels of the decade,' and went on to win both The Hawthornden...

's novel Mrs. Shakespeare: the Complete Works, which purports to be Anne's autobiographical reminiscences.

The Connie Willis
Connie Willis
Constance Elaine Trimmer Willis is an American science fiction writer. She has won eleven Hugo Awards and seven Nebula Awards. Willis most recently won a Hugo Award for Blackout/All Clear...

 short story "Winter's Tale," which combines factual information about Anne Hathaway with a fictitious Shakespeare identity theory, also characterises the nature of the relationship as loving and the bequeath of the second-best bed as romantically significant.

Through her long-running solo show Mrs Shakespeare, Will's first and last love (1989) American actress-writer Yvonne Hudson may have the most constant and evolving relationship with both the historical and dramatic Anne Hathaway. She depicts Anne and Will as maintaining a friendship despite the challenges inherent to their long separations and tragedies. Mining early and recent scholarship and the complete works, Hudson concurs that evidence of the couple's mutual respect is indeed evident in the plays and sonnets, along with support for the writer's infatuations and possibly adulterous relationships. Hudson also chooses the positive view of the bed bequest, sharing that "it may have been only here that I possessed William." Mrs Shakespeare explores the realities of keeping house without a husband while applying some dramatic license. This allows Anne to have at least a country wife's understanding of her educated spouse's work as she quotes sonnets and soliloquies to convey her feelings.

In the alternate-history novel Ruled Britannia
Ruled Britannia
Ruled Britannia is an alternate history novel by Harry Turtledove, first published in hardcover and paperback by Roc Books in 2002.-Plot introduction :The book is set in the year 1597, in an alternate universe where the Spanish Armada is successful...

(2002) Shakespeare is granted a divorce from Hathaway after he liberates England from Spanish dominion. The 2005 play Shakespeare's Will by Canadian playwright Vern Thiessen
Vern Thiessen
Vern Thiessen is a Canadian playwright.Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Thiessen studied at the University of Winnipeg and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts. He later attended the University of Alberta, where he obtained a Master of Fine Arts degree.Thiessen currently lives in Edmonton, Alberta and was...

 is similar in form. It is a one-woman piece that focuses on Anne Hathaway on the day of her husband's funeral.

The romantic comedy
Romantic Comedy
Romantic Comedy can refer to* Romantic Comedy , a 1979 play written by Bernard Slade* Romantic Comedy , a 1983 film adapted from the play and starring Dudley Moore and Mary Steenburgen...

 film Shakespeare in Love
Shakespeare in Love
Shakespeare in Love is a 1998 British-American comedy film directed by John Madden and written by Marc Norman and playwright Tom Stoppard....

provides an example of the negative view, depicting the marriage as a cold and loveless bond that Shakespeare must escape to find love in London. A similarly loveless relationship is depicted in the film A Waste of Shame
A Waste of Shame
A Waste of Shame is a 90-minute television drama on the circumstances surrounding William Shakespeare's composition of his sonnets. It takes its title from the first line of Sonnet 129...

(2005).

The Secret Confessions of Anne Shakespeare (2010), a novel by Arliss Ryan
Arliss Ryan
Arliss Ryan is an American novelist and short story writer and essayist.Ryan graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in English in 1971. For a time, Ryan worked at the United Nations as an administrative assistant before pursuing writing full-time...

, proposes Anne Hathaway as the true author of many of the Shakespeare plays (a claim originally made in 1938R. C. Churchill, Shakespeare and His Betters: A History and a Criticism of the Attempts Which Have Been Made to Prove That Shakespeare's Works Were Written by Others, Max Reinhardt, London, 1958, p. 54. Churchill refers to an article entitled "The Plays of Mrs. Shakespeare" by J. P. de Fonseka in G.K's Weekly, 3 March 1938.). In the novel, Anne follows Will to London to support his acting career. As he finds his true calling in writing, Anne's own literary skills flower, leading to a secret collaboration that makes William Shakespeare the foremost playwright in Elizabethan England.

Anne Hathaway's Cottage



Anne Hathaway's childhood was spent in a house near Stratford in Warwickshire
Warwickshire
Warwickshire is a landlocked non-metropolitan county in the West Midlands region of England. The county town is Warwick, although the largest town is Nuneaton. The county is famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare...

, England. Although it is often called a cottage
Cottage
__toc__In modern usage, a cottage is usually a modest, often cozy dwelling, typically in a rural or semi-rural location. However there are cottage-style dwellings in cities, and in places such as Canada the term exists with no connotations of size at all...

, it is, in fact, a spacious twelve-roomed farmhouse, with several bedrooms, now set in extensive gardens. It was known as Newlands Farm in Shakespeare's day and had more than 90 acres (364,217.4 m²) of land attached to it. As in many houses of the period, it has multiple chimneys to spread the heat evenly throughout the house during winter. The largest chimney was used for cooking. It also has visible timber framing
Timber framing
Timber framing , or half-timbering, also called in North America "post-and-beam" construction, is the method of creating structures using heavy squared off and carefully fitted and joined timbers with joints secured by large wooden pegs . It is commonplace in large barns...

, a trademark of vernacular Tudor style architecture
Tudor style architecture
The Tudor architectural style is the final development of medieval architecture during the Tudor period and even beyond, for conservative college patrons...

.

After the death of Anne's father, the cottage was owned by Anne's brother Bartholomew, and was passed down the Hathaway family until 1846, when financial problems forced them to sell it. It is now owned and managed by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is an independent registered educational charity based in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England, that came into existence in 1847 following the purchase of William Shakespeare's birthplace for preservation as a national memorial. It can also lay claim to be...

, and is now open to public visitors as a museum.

External links