William Shakespeare marries Anne Hathaway

William Shakespeare marries Anne Hathaway


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On November 28, 1582, William Shakespeare, 18, and Anne Hathaway, 26, pay a 40-pound bond for their marriage license in Stratford-upon-Avon. Six months later, Anne gives birth to their daughter, Susanna, and two years later, to twins.

Little is known about Shakespeare’s early life. His father was a tradesman who became an alderman and bailiff, and Shakespeare was baptized in Stratford-upon-Avon on April 26, 1564. Sometime after the birth of his own children, Shakespeare set off for London to become an actor and by 1592 was well established in London’s theatrical world as an actor and playwright. His earliest plays, including The Comedy of Errors and The Taming of the Shrew, were written in the early 1590s. Later in the decade, he wrote tragedies like Romeo and Juliet (1594-1595) and comedies including The Merchant of Venice (1596-1597). His greatest tragedies were written after 1600, including Hamlet (1600-01), Othello (1604-05), King Lear (1605-06) and Macbeth (1605-1606).

READ MORE: Why William Shakespeare's Life is Considered a Mystery

Shakespeare became a member of the popular theater troupe the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, which later became the King’s Men. The group built and operated the famous Globe Theater in London in 1599. Shakespeare became a major shareholder in the troupe and earned enough money to buy a large house in Stratford in 1597. He retired to Stratford in 1610, where he wrote his last plays, including The Tempest (1611) and The Winter’s Tale (1610-11). Meanwhile, he had written more than 100 sonnets, which were published in 1609. Shakespeare’s plays were not published during his lifetime. After his death, two members of his troupe collected copies of his plays and printed what is now called the First Folio (1623).


When did Shakespeare Meet Anne Hathaway?

Anne Hathaway (1556 &ndash 6 August 1623) was the wife of William Shakespeare, the English poet, playwright and actor. They were married in 1582, when he was 18 and she was 26 years old. She outlived her husband by seven years.

Secondly, what was the age difference between Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway? Shakespeare's wife, Anne Hathaway, was born in 1556. Shakespeare was eight years younger than her. When they married in 1582 he was eighteen and she was twenty-six.

In this way, how did Shakespeare Meet Anne Hathaway?

The hamlet of Shottery was only a mile from the town of Stratford where William Shakespeare lived with his family. Anne Hathaway would have often visited the town and would have therefore had the opportunity to meet William Shakespeare. At this time Anne would have been 26 and William 18.

Was Shakespeare's marriage arranged?

A wedding was arranged as quickly as possible, and six months later the couple had a daughter, Susanna, who was baptized on 26 May 1583. Two years later they had twins, Hamnet and Judith. In those days families were large, so the Shakespeare family was a small one.


Anne Hathaway, Hamnet and Judith: who were William Shakespeare’s family?

The story of the Shakespeares was one of social advancement, says Stanley Wells, reflected in dwellings that rose from rural farmstead to manorial splendour. Along the way were some family upsets: pregnant brides, lawsuits and excommunication.

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Published: May 13, 2021 at 2:45 pm

He is one of the greatest writers of all time, and our longing to know as much as we can about him continues. We know that William Shakespeare was born in 1564 to John and Mary Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, and that he was their first child to survive past infancy. During the Elizabethan period, infant mortality was very high, and his parents had already lost two daughters before young William was born. The exact date of his birth is unknown, but his baptismal record survives, showing that Gulielmus filius Johannes Shakespeare (William, son of John Shakespeare) was baptised in Stratford-upon-Avon’s Holy Trinity Church on 26 April 1564. His birthday is now celebrated on 23 April, since it was common for baptisms to be held three days after a birth.

Who were William Shakespeare’s parents?

The story of Shakespeare’s family – one of upward social mobility – is reflected in their homes. Start in the small village of Wilmcote, three miles north of Stratford-upon-Avon, where the playwright’s mother, Mary Arden, grew up in a small farmhouse built around 1514 by her father, Robert. Mary was the youngest of eight daughters by his first wife his second, Agnes Hill, brought with her two sons and two daughters. When Robert made his will in 1556, he named young Mary as one of his two executors and left her a substantial amount of land and money, which suggests that she was a woman of exceptional ability.

Mary Arden married the up-and-coming glover (and later wool dealer and money-lender) John Shakespeare, probably in 1557. Before long they moved into his substantial double-house in Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, now known as Shakespeare’s Birthplace. Mary had eight children, but only six survived infancy. John gave the town loyal service, rising through the ranks from the relatively humble role of ale-taster to become alderman and, in 1568, bailiff (or mayor.) His application for a coat of arms was unsuccessful in 1576, but he was granted one 20 years later, when he was said to be worth £500 – a sum not to be sneezed at. He died in 1601.

In 1594 John’s eldest son, William, had become a shareholder in the troupe of players called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, based in London. Three years later William demonstrated his commitment to his home town by buying New Place, the largest house in the borough. It was demolished in the 18th century but archaeological excavations carried out under the auspices of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust have added to our knowledge about the size and layout of the property. It had five gables, a courtyard, three floors, and between 20 and 30 rooms – more than enough to accommodate the entire extended family, if necessary. Indeed, Thomas Greene, Town Clerk from 1603 to 1617 and a member of the Middle Temple, who described himself as William’s cousin – the word could be flexibly used – lodged there with his family.

There would also have been ample space for William’s unmarried brothers, Richard, Gilbert and Edmund, of whom little is known. We do know that Edmund, 16 years younger than William, became an actor in London like his brother, had a bastard child, and died when he was only 27. He was buried in what is now Southwark Cathedral on the last day of 1607 to the sound of the ‘great bell’ – the tolling of which cost someone, probably William, £1. Gilbert, who witnessed the deed of purchase for New Place in William’s absence, worked at one time as a haberdasher in London. Of Richard we know only that he was baptised in Stratford on 11 March 1574 and buried there on 4 February 1613.

William’s sister Joan, born in 1569, married a hatter, William Hart, some time before 1600. They had four children: William, Mary, Thomas and Michael. Joan’s husband died in 1616 only a week before his famous brother-in-law, who left Joan life tenancy of part of the Henley Street house, along with £20 and “all his wearing apparel”. She lived there until her death in 1646 when the house, along with the adjoining dwelling, passed to her son Thomas, and then to his son, another Thomas, by the will of Shakespeare’s granddaughter, Lady Elizabeth Barnard. The property, identified as the Birthplace on the earliest surviving map of the town (dated 1759), remained in the family till 1806. The line continued John Shakespeare Hart, a chair-maker, was buried in Tewkesbury Abbey in 1800 with a memorial that mistakenly described him as “the sixth descendant from the poet Shakespeare”. Subsequent family members emigrated to Australia.

Shakespeare’s marriage to Anne Hathaway

In 1582, at the age of 18, Shakespeare married 26-year-old Anne Hathaway, who was already around three months pregnant with their daughter Susanna. The Hathaways – tenant farmers with 90 acres of land in the nearby village of Shottery – were acquaintances of the Shakespeares, and William may have met Anne while helping with the local harvest.

To ensure the pregnancy didn’t cause a scandal, Shakespeare had to apply to the Bishop’s Court in Worcester for permission to hold a wedding at short notice. Between 1570 and 1630 the records show that only three men in Stratford-upon-Avon were married below the age of 20 (the average age to marry was 26). Shakespeare was the only one of those whose wife was already pregnant.

William Shakespeare’s children

Anne Hathaway, who married William Shakespeare in 1582, came from a farming family in the neighbouring village of Shottery. Their only son, Hamnet – the name a variant of Hamlet – died in 1596, aged only 11. Presumably, like his father, he had been a pupil at the free grammar school, though its records from this period don’t survive.

William and Anne also had two daughters, Susanna and Judith. Susanna, born six months after her parents married, seems to have been an accomplished woman with a mind of her own. She was reported to the Ecclesiastical Court for refusing to take communion at Easter 1606 when, in the aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot, the authorities were especially anxious to round up possible Roman Catholic sympathisers. The case was dismissed. The following year she married the strongly Protestant physician John Hall, and her father gave her the substantial gift of 107 acres of land in Old Stratford as a marriage settlement, while apparently retaining a life interest.

In 1613 her marriage was afflicted by scandal when one John Lane claimed that Susanna had caught a sexually transmitted infection from a married hatter and haberdasher named Ralph Smith. She successfully sued Lane for defamation of character in Worcester Consistory Court. Lane, who did not turn up to defend himself, was excommunicated. These events are dramatised in Peter Whelan’s successful play The Herbal Bed (1996).

The Halls are believed to have lived in the large and handsome house on the outskirts of the town now known as Hall’s Croft, which dates from 1613 and may have been built for them when Shakespeare died in 1616 they moved into New Place. Shakespeare left most of his property to Susanna and appointed the Halls as his executors.

Susanna lived until 1649. Her epitaph reads “Witty” – that is, intelligent – “beyond her sex, but that’s not all, / Wise to salvation was good Mistress Hall.” In this period, education for girls lagged far behind that for boys, but there were petty schools in the town where both boys and girls could learn to read, write and do their sums. Susanna’s signature survives in the records of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Shakespeare’s younger daughter, Judith, seems to have been a bit of a handful. At the age of 31, less than two months before her father died, she married Thomas Quiney, son of a prominent townsman, in Holy Trinity Church – but was excommunicated because they had not obtained the special licence required for marriage in Lent. There was reason to marry in a hurry: soon afterwards Quiney was accused of “incontinence” with Margaret Wheeler, who had been buried with their illegitimate child. He pleaded guilty. Shakespeare made changes to his will seemingly designed to protect Judith’s interests. She and Thomas went on to have three sons, all of whom died young they called the eldest, born soon after his grandfather died, Shakespeare. Judith lived until 1662.

Shakespeare’s last direct descendant was Elizabeth, born to Susanna and John Hall in 1608. He left her most of his silver plate (easily convertible into cash if she wished). She married Thomas Nash and they lived in New Place. After he died she married John Barnard, a prosperous widower with several children, in 1649. When her mother died soon afterwards the couple moved into New Place. A staunch Royalist, Barnard was made a baronet in 1661. Later they moved back into his ancestral home, Abington Manor in Northamptonshire, an even more splendid house than New Place, where Elizabeth died childless in 1670.

So a family story that began in a modest farmhouse ended with Shakespeare’s granddaughter in a great manor house. What would Mary Arden have made of that?

Does Shakespeare have any living descendants?

Shakespeare has no direct living descendants, but there are still descendants of his sister Joan and her husband William Hart. His childhood home on Henley Street in Stratford remains in the care of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Stanley Wells is a leading authority on Shakespeare. He is honorary president of The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and professor emeritus at the University of Birmingham.

This article was first published in BBC History Magazine’s ‘The World of Shakespeare’ bookazine


Anne, The Playwright’s Wife: 1582 – 1616

27 – the date in November that a marriage license was issued to William Shakespeare which stated: “Anno Domini 1582, Novembris 27, die eiusdem mensis. Item eodem die supradicto emanavit Licentia inter Wm Shaxpere et Annam Whateley de Temple Grafton”.

1582 – the year in which Anne’s life as William Shakespeare’s wife began on 29th November.

26/27 – the age at which Anne was to marry the 18 year old William Shakespeare in what is thought to have been a shotgun wedding.

15 – the number of years that Anne probably resided at the Shakespeare home in Henley street Stratford following their marriage. In fact, throughout Shakespeare’s career as a playwright, and his subsequent travels, Anne remained in Stratford-upon-Avon.

£60 – the amount paid for New Place, the home of Anne and William from 4th May, 1597, and the first household at which Anne was mistress in accordance with the social mores of the period.

34 – the total number of years that Anne Hathaway and William Shakespeare were married.


Today’s AJ Cousin Connection is Anne Hathaway, the wife of playwright William Shakespeare. Anne Hathaway was born in 1555/6 and died on this day, August 6, in 1623. Anne was 26 when she married the then 18 year old William in November of 1582. She was pregnant with the child she would give birth to six months later.

HOLLYWOOD star Anne Hathaway is married to actor and designer Adam Shulman. The pair met at the Palm Springs Film Festival nearly a decade ago and married shortly after.


William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway

William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway on November 27,1582. We don’t know too much about Anne Hathaway, nor much about any aspect of Shakespeare’s private life. We do know that she was eight years older than the playwright, and that she lived in Shottery, a small hamlet a mile up the road from Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford. She was the oldest of eight children both her parents were dead, and she lived with her brother. At 26, she was an old maid by 16th-century standards. We don’t know how the 18-year-old Shakespeare wooed this older woman, or even how they met, but we can infer a few juicy details about their courtship, based on the fact that their first child, Susanna, was born just six months after the wedding. Their wedding was hastily planned, and because Shakespeare was still under the age of consent, his father would have to have given his permission. The newlyweds then lived together with Shakespeare’s parents. Young William probably helped his father, John, with his business dealings, and Anne would have helped her mother-in-law with the housework. Anne gave birth to twins two years later: a boy and girl, named Hamnet and Judith, named after close friends of William and Anne.

Sometime after the twins were born, Shakespeare moved to London to pursue an acting career, and by 1582 he was well established. He came back to Stratford occasionally, but Anne never visited him in London. The couple spent most of the rest of their marriage apart, but Shakespeare moved back to Stratford when he retired from the stage, and they spent the last six years of his life together. In his will, Shakespeare bequeathed his “second-best bed” to Anne. Much has been made of this line in his will, but it probably was not intended to be insulting, as the “best bed” was generally reserved for guests and was passed down as a family heirloom. Shakespeare died in 1616, and Anne followed in 1623. She is buried next to him in the Church of the Holy Trinity in Stratford.


Institution Rights and Document Citation

Terms of use
The Bishop of Worcester has graciously contributed the above image from his collections to Shakespeare Documented, and retains sole ownership of said image. Visitors may link to and cite the image within Shakespeare Documented in personal research only. Any further use, including, but not limited to, unauthorized downloading or distribution of the image is strictly prohibited. Visitors must request permission from the Bishop of Worcester (care of The Registrar of the Diocese of Worcester, 8 Sansome Walk, Worcester, WR1 1LW, United Kingdom) for any additional use.

Document-specific information
Title: Entry in the Bishop's register
Date: November 1582
Repository: The Diocese of Worcester, Worcester, UK
Call number and opening: b716.093 BA 2648/10 (i), fol. 43v-44r

Robert Bearman, "Entry in the Bishop's register concerning the marriage of William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway," Shakespeare Documented, https://doi.org/10.37078/678.

Diocese of Worcester, b716.093 BA 2648/10 (i). See Shakespeare Documented, https://doi.org/10.37078/678.

Two documents record the marriage of William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway but the evidence is flawed. An entry, dated November 27, 1582, in the bishop of Worcester&rsquos register, shown here, records that a license was granted to William Shakespeare for his marriage to Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton. However, the other is a bond dated the next day that there was nothing to prevent the marriage taking place between William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway of Stratford-upon-Avon, and that the bishop would be
safeguarded from any future possible objections.

William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway late in November 1582. However, the marriage did not take place in the couple&rsquos parish church at Stratford-upon-Avon and nor were the banns read there three times, as would normally have been required. Instead application was made to the bishop of Worcester, in whose diocese Stratford then lay, for a license for the marriage to take place elsewhere after a single reading of banns. The license itself, which would have been addressed to the minister of the church at which the ceremony was to take place, is not extant. However, no existing surviving parish register records the event therefore Shakespeare&rsquos marriage may have taken place at any local church without a surviving register.

Anne Hathaway was three months pregnant (the couple&rsquos child was born the following May) and the couple&rsquos relative ages were unusual. William was eighteen, one of only three known teenage bridegrooms marrying in Stratford during the years 1570 to 1640. This was well below twenty-six, the average age during that period. At the age of twenty-six, most young men from Shakespeare&rsquos background would have completed their apprenticeship and acquired an establishment in which to raise a family independently. At twenty-six, Anne Hathaway was eight years older than Shakespeare. This in itself was unusual, but it also put her two years beyond the average age of women at their first marriage, twenty-four. These considerations do not rule out a marriage for love, but have cast suspicion on whether the couple would have married if Anne had not been pregnant.

Considering Anne&rsquos pregnancy, scholars have argued that the couple may have been married by license because there was insufficient time for the reading of banns three times before Advent began on December 2. Advent, the church season before Christmas, was a customary prohibited period for marriages, which lasted until eight days after Epiphany, observed twelve days after Christmas. However, this does not explain why the couple married outside their parish church.

The entry that on November 27, 1582 a license had been issued for the marriage of William Shakespeare and Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton occurs on folio 43v of a register in use since the appointment of Nicholas Bullingham as bishop in 1571. Initially this had been divided into two sections, the first (from folio 1) recording most routine diocesan business, with the second (beginning on folio 44) listing ordinations only. At first, the issuing of licenses, mainly for marriages but occasionally for other purposes, formed only a small part of routine business, and are found interspersed with other routine business in the first section. However, by 1579 the issuing of licenses had become sufficiently common to warrant its separate listing. This list of licenses begins on folio 34 and subsequent entries, up to the middle of December 1582, fill folios 34-43v. As the ordination section, begun in 1570, occupied folio 44 and several further leaves, the list of licenses was continued on folio 51 with entries added until the end of 1585 up to folio 58.

There must be a reason for the discrepancy in the bride&rsquos description &ndash Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton in the register and Anne Hathaway of Stratford-upon-Avon in the bond. The bond is an original document, and is more likely to be correct. The discrepancy might therefore simply be explained as a clerical error made by the man entering the note in the register shown here. Although this may seem unlikely at first, we need to be clear about when the entry was actually made. The list of licenses covering the years 1579 to 1584, now occupying folios 34-43v, folios 51-58, is in the same neat hand, and certainly does not have the appearance of being made up day-by-day, or even week-by-week. In other words, the clerk must have been writing up the entries (at least in blocks) from either notes made at the time the licenses were issued, or from one of the series of original documents which would have been produced in the process of securing a license. In any event, this process of retrospective copying, or even re-copying, could have well led to errors. In fact, comparison of other register entries with surviving bonds does reveal several other discrepancies.

The key entry, on folio 43v, reads: &ldquoItem eodem die similis emanauit licencia inter Willelmum Shaxpere et Annam Whateley de Temple grafton.&rdquo (Also on the same day a similar licence was issued between William Shakespeare of Stratford and Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton). The words &ldquoOn the same day&rdquo refers back to the previous entry for a licence issued on November 27 and &ldquosimilar&rdquo to the fact that all licences since November 17 had been for marriages. If the clerk was indeed in error, a careless misreading of Hathaway for Whateley is certainly a possibility.

Further, there is no other evidence for an Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton. The inclusion of the place name Temple Grafton, however, cannot be so easily explained, though it is possible that the marriage might have taken place there. This would have been specified in the lost licence and then perhaps carelessly assumed to have been the bride&rsquos parish when the entry was copied. It would certainly have been within easy reach of Shottery, the bride&rsquos place of residence. However, the loss of the Temple Grafton parish registers would make purely speculative any firmer proposal that the marriage took place there.


A wife by any other name

The daughter of a yeoman farmer, Anne Hathaway lived with her family in a farmhouse in Shottery, England, less than a mile and a half away from Shakespeare's birthplace. Per the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Hathaway also went by the alias Agnes, which comes from the Greek word "Hagne," meaning "pure" or "chaste." That brings us to another interesting — albeit forced — similarity to the actress Anne Hathaway, who famously played Fantine in Les Miserables. A factory foreman refers to Fantine as "virtuous" and "pure." She is, as NPR contributor Barrie Hardymon put it, "sainted." Meanwhile, Agnes is the name of a saint.

No one knows St. Hathaway's precise birthdate, but the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust explains that when she tied the knot with Shakespeare in 1582, the average age of marriage was 26. Sources consistently list that as Hathaway's age at marriage. So we're left to assume that she was at least born in the vicinity of 1556. Whatever Hathaway's age, Shakespeare was underage. Just 18 years old, he was legally a minor when he said "I doth." But Hathaway wasn't so much robbing the cradle as preparing to fill one. She was three months pregnant at the ceremony. The couple had three children: Susana Judit, and Hamnet. Hathaway died in 1623, seven years after her husband.


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  • Fourteen-line poem.
  • Written in iambic pentameter: lines that are ten syllables long, with accents falling on every second syllable.
  • First popularized during the Italian Renaissance by the poet Petrarch.
  • The Shakespearean sonnet is divided into four parts: the first three parts are quatrains (four lines rhymed ABAB) and the fourth part is a couplet (two lines rhymed CC).


How did Shakespeare meet his wife?

Click to read further detail. Correspondingly, what was Shakespeare's relationship with his wife?

William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway when he was 18 and when she was 26 or 27, and they remained married for the rest of his life. And, of course, Anne was pregnant with their first child when they got married.

Also, did Shakespeare divorce his wife? William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway in November 1582 and they remained married until Shakespeare's death. At the time of their marriage William was 18, while Anne was 26&mdashand pregnant with their first child.

Moreover, why did Shakespeare rush his wife?

Hathaway married Shakespeare in November 1582 while already pregnant with the couple's first child, to whom she gave birth six months later. He had chosen to marry one, Anne Whateley, but when this became known he was immediately forced by Hathaway's family to marry their pregnant relative.


Watch the video: Ρωμαίος και Ιουλιέττα του Ουίλλιαμ Σαίξπηρ με τον Διονύση Καψάλη. Στο Πατάρι του Gutenberg


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