What Is Known About Anne Hathaway Shakespeare?

Anne Hathaway Shakespeare is known as the wife of the famous playwright William Shakespeare. Although not much is known about her life, historians have pieced together some information that provides insights into her background and relationship with Shakespeare.

Early Life

Anne Hathaway was born in 1556 in Shottery, a village near Stratford-upon-Avon, England. She was the eldest daughter of Richard Hathaway, a farmer, and his wife Joan. Anne grew up in a modest household and received limited formal education.

Marriage to William Shakespeare

In 1582, at the age of 26, Anne Hathaway married William Shakespeare, who was only 18 at the time. It is believed that Anne was already pregnant with their first child when they got married. Their daughter Susanna was born six months after their wedding.

The couple went on to have two more children – twins named Hamnet and Judith – who were born in 1585. Sadly, Hamnet died at the age of 11 due to unknown causes. This tragic event had a profound impact on both Anne and William.

Life in Stratford-upon-Avon

After their marriage, Anne and William lived in Stratford-upon-Avon. While William frequently traveled to London for his theater career, Anne remained in Stratford with their children. It is believed that she primarily focused on raising their family while William pursued his writing and acting endeavors.

Relationship with William Shakespeare

The details of Anne’s relationship with her husband are largely unknown. However, some scholars speculate that their marriage may have been challenging due to the differences in their ages and backgrounds. Despite this, there is evidence suggesting a strong bond between them.

In his will, Shakespeare left Anne his “second-best bed,” which has been the subject of much debate among historians. Some interpret this as a slight, while others argue that it may have been a meaningful gesture symbolizing their intimate and personal space as a married couple.

Legacy

After William’s death in 1616, Anne Hathaway Shakespeare continued to live in Stratford-upon-Avon until her own death in 1623. She outlived her husband by seven years.

Anne is buried next to William in the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon. Their shared tombstone bears an epitaph believed to have been written by William himself:

“Good friend for Jesus’ sake forbear,
To dig the dust enclosed here.
Blessed be the man that spares these stones,
And cursed be he that moves my bones.”

Conclusion

While much about Anne Hathaway Shakespeare remains unknown, her role as William Shakespeare’s wife and mother of his children cannot be understated. Despite the limited historical records, her existence and influence on one of the greatest playwrights in history serve as a reminder of the often overlooked contributions and stories of women throughout time.