Anne Hathaway was born in England in 1556. She was married to William Shakespeare in 1582, and the couple had three children together. Anne Hathaway is believed to have been a great help to her husband during his career as a playwright and poet. She was known for being a strong and intelligent woman, and she is often credited with helping her husband become one of the most famous writers of all time.
William Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway at the young age of 18. The Hathaways were tenants of a small farmhouse on 90 acres of land in Shottery, close to where Shakespeare was born and raised.
The Hathaway family lived in the cottage for 13 generations until Shakespeare’s Birthplace Trust bought it in 1892 and turned it into a museum.
Anne’s father was a yeoman farmer and held a good reputation in Shottery. When he died, Anne inherited some money that she could use to get married; her brother Bartholomew then bought the house and farm from his father.
Anne and William Shakespeare married in 1582 when Anne was around 26 years old and William was only 18. We’re not sure of Anne’s exact date of birth, but we do know that she was pregnant at the time of their marriage. In those days, couples sometimes participated in a handfasting ceremony on Lammas Day (August 1st) as a sort of official engagement. This ceremony included exchanging vows in front of witnesses and then consummating the marriage- all before the couple’s official church wedding.
William applied to the Bishop’s Court in Worcester to speed up proceedings and avoid scandal, as it was important for the wedding to take place before signs of the pregnancy became too obvious.
Guarantors accompanied William to court in order to ensure the validity of his marriage. If not, they would be required by law to pay the sum of £40. Shakespeare’s family home on Henley Street would become Anne’s new home following their wedding day if everything went as planned.
Not much is understood about Anne and William’s relationship. All we can be sure of is that they got married, had three children.
The couple’s first child, a daughter named Susanna, was born in 1583–half a year after William and Anne tied the knot. In 1585, they had twins: Judith and Hamnet. Unfortunately, Hamnet succumbed to the Plague at age 11. Susanna later married a local doctor called John Hall; meanwhile, Judith wed a vintner by the name of Thomas Quinney.
Anne Hathaway never went to London while her husband, William Shakespeare, worked as an actor there–or at least, as far as anyone knows. He would visit frequently but she always remained in the Henley Street house with her in-laws.
Anne Hathaway’s Stratford home life was just as difficult as her husband William’s work life in London.
In Elizabethan England, girls were not given a formal education and weren’t taught to read at home. Although some families encouraged reading among their daughters, most men did not see the importance in teaching them. Sir Thomas More’s decision to teach his daughters how to read was controversial because it departed from the social norm.
Queen Elizabeth would have received the best education available due to her status as an heir to the throne.
Anne Hathaway was expected to be a good wife even though she couldn’t read or write along with her two daughters. In those days, managing a household was much harder than it is now so people had high expectations for Anne.
Anne and William stayed together until Shakespeare died in 1616. Upon his death, he bequeathed his ‘second best bed’ to her in his will.
Anne Shakespeare died in 1623.
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Link will appear as Hanson, Marilee. "Anne Hathaway" https://englishhistory.net/shakespeare/anne-hathaway/, October 26, 2022