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Anne Hathaway – William Shakespeare's Wife

Anne Hathaway, A Biography

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Anne Hathaway was William Shakespeare’s wife. Originally from Shottery, a small village on the outskirts of Stratford-upon-Avon, she moved into the town when the couple were married in 1582.

Anne Hathaway Facts

  • Born: c.1555
  • Lived in: Shottery and Stratford-upon-Avon
  • Married: November 1582 to William Shakespeare aged 26
  • Children: Three children (two daughters, one son)
  • Died: 6 August 1623

We know very little about Anne Hathaway. Her name crops up a few times in historical records, but we don’t have any real sense of what type of woman she was.

She grew up in a farmhouse in Shottery, a village just outside Stratford-upon-Avon in the Forest of Arden. Anne Hathaway's Cottage remains on the site and has since become a major tourist attraction.

Shotgun Marriage

Anne Hathaway married William Shakespeare in November 1582 – she was 26, he was just 18. It appears that the couple had conceived a child out of wedlock and a shotgun wedding was arranged despite the fact that marriages were not traditionally performed at that time of year.

Special permission had to be asked from the Church and friends and family had to financially guarantee the wedding and sign a surety for £40 – a huge some in those days.

Some historians believe that the marriage was an unhappy one and the couple were forced together by the pregnancy. Although there is no evidence to support this, some historians go as far as to suggest that William left for London to escape the day-to-day pressures of his unhappy marriage. This is, of course, wild speculation!

Children

Six months after the marriage, their first daughter Susanna was born. Twins, Hamnet and Judith soon followed in 1585. Hamnet died aged 11; four years later Shakespeare wrote Hamlet, a play that may have drawn on his own grief at loosing his only son.

Death

Anne Hathaway outlived William and finally departed in 1623. She is buried next to Shakespeare’s grave inside Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon. Like her husband, she has an inscription upon her tomb, some of which is written in Latin:

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.

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.
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