Anne Hathaway

Anne Hathaway
Anne Hathaway

Anne Hathaway was from England and was the wife of William Shakespeare. Very little is known except for a few legal documents and a book written about her (Shakespeare's Wife). Hathaway lives an independent and strong female lifestyle.(1555/56 – 6 August 1623).

Anne's Life Before Shakespeare

Anne Hathaway was born either in 1555 or 1556. While her name is most known as Anne Hathaway. (Findlay 177). She was the eldest of eight children. Richard Hathaway was her father and worked on the farm while Anne watched over her siblings. She did not attend school and was uneducated. She grew up in the village of Shottery which is just outside of Stratford-upon-Avon. Her family farm was named Hewlands and was a sheep farm. In September 1581, Anne was approximately twenty-six to twenty-seven, her father past away leaving Hathaway with Hewlands and about six pounds, thirteen shillings, and four pence. (Findlay). She was baptized, as well as the rest of her family, in the place she was later buried, in the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-Upon-Avon. (Greer).

Mrs. Shakespeare, William's Wife

Anne Hathaway and William Shakespeare were granted a special marriage and marriage license allowing them to get married on November 27, 1582 (Findlay 177). The marriage liscense states: Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton, Anne Hathaway. This last name is rumored to be her mother’s maiden name. This name error still is questionable why it would be used on her marriage license when she normally used Hathaway. (Findlay 177). This special marriage license was given by the Consistory Court at Worcester. (Greer p. 24). Anne Hathaway was nearly eight years older than her husband (26/27), Will, who was eighteen at marriage (Gaines 18). Possibly, Hathaway and Shakespeare knew each other growing up. Shakespeare's family was in need of money and Richard Hathaway, Anne's father, paid the Shakespeare's debt. William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway, while being married, lived separate lives for most of their years after marriage. William Shakespeare was in London to earn a living and Anne was in their home. Shakespeare would visit periodically every year, not as much as Hathaway would have wanted though-assumed by the scholars.
(Scheil). Hathaway lived in Stratford with the children in Henley Street. This was called "New Place" and was purchased in 1597. (Pressley).

Will's and Anne's Children

In the end of summer after her father’s death, roughly August (1582), William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway had premarital sex which led her to become pregnant (Gaines 18). The scholars know this because of the birth of the first child being only 5-6 months after their marriage. Anne Hathaway, just six months into her marriage gave birth to Susanna Shakespeare, the newlyweds first baby. Anne was roughly thirty-six when given birth to their daughter, Susanna, on May 26th 1583. Anne had a loving and strong mother-daughter relationship with Susanna. This relationship is assumed to be better between these two women than Shakespeare had with Hathaway. Following Susanna was a set of twins: Hamnet and Judith both baptized February 2nd, 1585. (Findlay 177). Hamnet died at age 11 due to the Bubonic Plague. Hamnet was buried in Straford-Upon-Avon on August 11, 1596. Both daughters married, Susanna to doctor John Hall in 1607 and Judith to tavern owner Thomas Quiney in 1616. Susanna and John gave birth to grandchild Elizaberth in 1607.

Susanna, Hamnet, and Judith
Susanna, Hamnet, and Judith


Anne Hathaway outlived her husband by seven years. In March 1616, one month before Will’s death, he wrote in his will: “’I give unto my wife my second best bed with the furniture’” (Scheil, p. 59). Anne was sixty years old (Findlay 178). It is assumed that she lived in Stratford-Upon-Avon until her death in 1623 at an age of sixty-seven (Findlay 178). Her exact name and dates of birth and death were from her tomb in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-Upon-Avon. She is buried right next to her husband. (Greer, 5).
Copied from Hathaway's tombstone.
Copied from Hathaway's tombstone.

Written References in Her Husband's Literature

The Plays:

Her name appears in all of his work about 82 times (Findlay 178). Anne Page in The Merry Wives of Windsor could possibly be an acknowledgment to her. The character of Anne Bullen in Henry VIII could be a reference to her. (Shakespeare; Findlay 178). Ophelia loses virginity before marriage in Hamlet, possibly referencing their premarital sex (Findlay 178). Constance from King John, she loses her son-similar to Anne Hathaway losing her son Hamnet. The character in The Winter's Tale named Hermione suffers throughout the play. This suffering is reflected by Shakespeare's wife Anne.

The Sonnets:

The sonnet 57 remarks of a character watching a clock and waiting for their loved one. This reflects Anne Hathaway waiting for her husband while he away doing his plays. "Whilst I, my sovereign, watch the clock for you..." (Shakespeare line 6).
The sonnet 145 is undeniably all about her (Findlay 178). Shakespeare plays will the idea of “Hathaway” and “hate away,” “'I hate' from hate away she threw” (Shakespeare, Sonnet 145). This sonnet is a love poem clearly professing the love between two souls: “Those lips that love’s own hand did make…” (Shakespeare, 145. 1). This sonnet is different in the means that it is in iambic tetrameter, not iambic pentameter.
Sonnet 145:
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.'


Death Date

This age gap is most likely true because on her tombstone it is inscribed she was sixty-seven. Some theorist suppose that the seven was a one and over time it eroded-leaving only a two-year gap (Scheil 13). According to Greer, this age difference is not possible because the church where she got baptized. In the year 1558 the church began to keep detailed register of the royal edict of 1558, Hathaway therefore, according to Greer, had to be born before that. (Greer).


The reason behind their marriage is one of the most discussed historical events talked about regarding Hathaway. Greer points out that most couples got married in the fall months, not the spring, and that it was not very uncommon for brides to be pregnant at the altar. She makes note that Shakespeare did have to marry because of the child, but he was planning on it anyway. Especially since both the Hathaway and the Shakespeare family were familiar and friendly with each other. Shakespeare did not feel trapped in any sense says some theorist. Others say that there was too many differences between them and Shakespeare felt trapped, as well as he was forced by his family due to financial issues. They say how since she was uneducated and he was so involved with reading his plays and writing them, this could had nothing in common besides making children. (Scheil). Other theories are that Susanna is the only reason for their marriage. (Scheil). There is a small tale of adultery between Anne and one of Will’s brother. This was never confirmed and is not widely believed;yet, some critics say that is why William Shakespeare included this in his Hamlet play where Gertrude commits adultery on her husband and later marries his brother, the one she has an affair with (Findlay 179).
Shakespeare and Hathaway
Shakespeare and Hathaway


Hathaway tends to be called a variety of other names as well. Names such as Agnes, Anne Shakespeare or Anne Whateley. One interpretation is that her mother remarried a Whateley, and Hathway was her original last name. Another is that Whateley was a mistake made by the church during Anne's marriage-the marriage license states: William Shakespeare and Anne Whateley. Also, Greer in her book spells Hathaways first name as An without the "e," while Hathaway is most commonly known as "Anne." The tombstone has the "e" inscribed into it.

Shakespeare's Will

It is assumed that Anne got a personal dig from her late husband in his will, only leaving her the Second Best Bed with the linens and nothing else. The res tof the inheritance and the furniture went to his daughter Susanna. Some theorist state how Hathaway knew about this will and was perfectly acceptable with it. (Scheil 59).


Anne Hathaway is commonly recognized as her thatched cottage home. This home is a tourist attraction today called “Anne Hathaway’s Cottage.” This home is still available to visit today and is briefly two hours by car from London. It is a tourist attraction; however, does not get as much attention as the other Shakespeare’s tourist attraction because of the location (right outside of Stratford-Upon-Avon, where Shakespeare lived). There is and probably truth to the
beliefs that William Shakespeare never lived in this cottage at all and the idea that after their marriage, she never lived there again (Scheil). This is the place she grew up on the sheep farm. Today the house itself, on that stone structured ground, still stands as it would have looked. All of the furniture inside the tourist house today never belonged to Anne, nor any of her children, husband, or relatives. They are vintage and resembled what would be in that house, but they are not physically hers. They used to serve tea to the guests for visiting many decades ago, now there is a gift-shop where they sell the tea to the guests of the house. On spring and summer days ,the farmland that once grew crops and hurdled sheep, now is a magical garden to walk through. (Scheil). If tourist want to, they can also visit Holy Trinity Church and see her grave along with Shakespeare's grave.
Hathaway's Cottage today.
Hathaway's Cottage today.

Shakespeare's Wife

Shakespeare's Wife is a biographical book about Anne Hathaway. Germaine Greer first published January 1st, 2007. This book remarks about Anne's upbringing and childhood-comparing her to women in her town and the time period. It then deepens the understanding of Anne's marriage with William through the use of his plays. These references are listed above. This biographical book was credited because it was the first biographical book to be written about Anne Hathaway. Every other book about Anne Hathaway was either fictional, through William Shakespeare, or an article or journal. (Greer).
external image shakespeares-wife.jpg


Draudt, M. "Notes & Queries: Shakespeare's Marriage and Hamnet's Death ." EBSCO (2001): 303-3
05. Web.
Fidnlay, A. "Women in Shakespeare: Anne Hathaway." EBSCO (2010): 177-179. Web.
Gaines , B. "Biography of William Shakespeare: Critical Insights: King Lear ." EBSCO (2011): 18-24. Web.
Greer, Germaine. Shakespeare's Wife . New York, NY: Harper Perennial, 2009. Print .
K, Scheil. "Critical Survey: The Shakespeare Courtship in the Millennium." EBSCO (2013): 6-18. Web.

"Mrs. Shakespeare: Anne Hathaway." Shakespeare Resource Center -. Ed. Pressley M. J. Shakespeare Resource Center, n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2014.

Scheil, K. "Critical Survey: The Second Best Bed and the Legacy of Anne Hathaway." EBSCO (2009): 59-71. Web.
Shakespeare, William, et al. The Norton Shakespeare: Essentia