Today on “Days to Remember,” we celebrate how on November 28th 1582, William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway were married.
William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright, and actor, 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.
Shakespeare was born and brought up in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. At the age of 18, he married Anne Hathaway, with whom he had three children: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith. Sometime between 1585 and 1592, he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part-owner of a playing company called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, later known as the King’s Men.
Who was Anne Hathaway?
Anne Hathaway was the wife of William Shakespeare, the English poet, playwright and actor.
They were married in 1582, when she was 26 years old. 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 from this day.
Hathaway is believed to have grown up in Shottery, a small village just to the west of Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, 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 farmer. He died in September 1581 and left his daughter the sum of six pounds, thirteen shillings and four pence) to be paid “at the day of her marriage”.
In her father’s will, her name is listed as “Agnes”, leading to some scholars believing that she should be referred to as “Agnes Hathaway”.
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 old; Shakespeare was only 18, which was pretty BIG age difference back then.
In today’s society Anne Hathaway would be consider what’s called a Cougar.
This age difference, added to Hathaway’s antenuptial pregnancy, some historians had declared this evidences to be a “shotgun wedding”, forced on a reluctant Shakespeare by the Hathaway family. There is, however, no evidence for this inference.
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 Hathaway, and from a family in good standing both socially and financially, would have been considered a catch.
Shakespeare 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.
Three children were born to Hathaway and her husband; Susanna in 1583 and the twins Hamnet and Judith in 1585. Hamnet died at 11 years old and was buried in Stratford upon Avon on August 11th 1596, during one of the frequent outbreaks of the Bubonic plague.
One of Shakespeare’s sonnets, number 145, 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. It’s fairly simple language and syntax has led to suggestions that it was written much earlier than the other, more mature, sonnets.
Those lips that Love’s own hand did make
Breathed forth the sound that said ‘I hate’
To me that languish’d for her sake;
But when she saw my woeful state
Straight in her heart did mercy come,
Chiding that tongue that ever sweet
Was used in giving gentle doom,
And taught it thus anew to greet:
‘I hate’ she alter’d with an end,
That follow’d it as gentle day
Doth follow night, who like a fiend
From heaven to hell is flown away;
‘I hate’ from hate away she threw,
And saved my life, saying ‘not you.’
As celebrate we celebrate how on November 28th 1582, William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway were married.
Written & Designed by JD Mitchell