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These novels solve the mysteries surrounding Shakespeare by transporting us back in time, to walk in his shoes, and see his world through his eyes.

Only when we see Shakespeare in his original historical context can we understand what his plays and poems really mean.

This blog explains some of my ideas and discoveries, to prepare for this series of novels.

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The University of Oxford's Bodleian Library & The Royal Shakespeare Company

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Shakespeare's Muse Anne Hathaway


On 6 August 1623, William Shakespeare’s wife Anne Hathaway died.






He died April 1616, which means that she lived without him for 7 years. It must have been lonely without him all those years, but when she died, at 67 years old, surely she had known that she lived a very full and rewarding life.

She was eight years older than Shakespeare, and by the time he was born in 1564, it is very likely that she knew him as a baby.

It is hard to imagine that her father and Shakespeare's father didn't know each other. Anne’s father was a farmer, and Shakespeare’s father had farming interests, and also held local government positions.

Not much is known about William Shakespeare’s relationship with Anne Hathaway. They were married in 1582, when he was 18 and she was 26. They had a baby not long after.

Some people think they were forced to get married, because she got pregnant, and that Anne pursued William.

I agree with Germaine Greer that William pursued Anne.

Furthermore, I like to think that the young William Shakespeare’s courtship of Anne Hathaway was long and slow, and occurred over the course of many years.

I like to think that as he grew up, by the time he was 14 or 15, he was very familiar with Anne. 

I don’t think that there was just one summer where Anne fell in love with William, and she got pregnant.

I think she knew a great deal about him, and his family, and the more she got to know William, the more she liked him.


Anne, far right, with her family



They were neighbours of a sort. Arguably she may have been the most beautiful young lady around, if she caught his eye and caught his interest. 

I like to think it was simply a matter of his liking her, and her liking him. He made her laugh, and she made him laugh.

Since he would become famous for writing and acting, she may have been the very first person he wanted to impress and entertain. 

More than any woman in his life, Anne Hathaway was his muse. She was the goddess who inspired him to write and perform.

When he began to dream of becoming a writer and actor, she may have been the first one he shared this dream with. It says a lot about her that she allowed him to pursue that dream. I like to think that she encouraged it.

She stood by him all the years, when they had children, when he went to London, when he risked his life and reputation on stage (during the period of the Essex Rebellion) and when he became a King's Man to King James, starting in 1603.

None of these years would have been easy, and there were probably more bad years years than good.

In all those years she had as much to gain as her husband did, and she had as much to lose.

I like to think that by the time that he died in 1616, she was as responsible for his success as he was.





We don't know much about the years after Shakespeare's death.

How exactly was he remembered?

But we do know that just after her death, the First Folio (the collection of Shakespeare's plays) was published.

It is impossible for me to believe that she did not know this, and that her late husband's best friends in the world, Richard Burbage and Henry Condell, would not tell her that they had gathered the plays, edited them and were preparing to publish them in a book.

It must have made her very happy to know that the plays would not be soon forgotten, and may have a chance at being read and performed in the years after.

I don't think she would have had any idea that these plays would endure and be so successful some 400 years later!

I hope you join me today in remembering this remarkable woman. Without her, one could argue that we would not have the works of Shakespeare. For that, we should be forever grateful to her.

Cheers,

David B. Schajer

Related Articles:


Anne and William Shakespeare's Wedding

Shakespeare's Father-In-Law

Fifty Shades of Shakespeare

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