Shakespeare’s wife was named Anne Hathaway.

  • Shakespeare’s farewell
Shakespeare's farewell
Lebrecht Music & Arts/ Alamy Stock Photo

The actress Anne Hathaway is well known for starring in hit films such as Les Misérables, The Princess Diaries, and The Devil Wears Prada, but what’s less well known is that she was named after the wife of famed playwright William Shakespeare. That Anne Hathaway was born in 1556, and grew up on a large farm in the village of Shottery, England, about a mile and a half away from Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon. William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway were married in 1582, after which Anne moved with William into the Shakespeare family home in Stratford.

Anne and William had three children: Susanna, born in 1583, and twins Judith and Hamnet, born in 1585. William spent much of his time away from his family working as a playwright in London, and it’s unknown whether he was at Anne’s side after the couple suffered a tragic loss when their son Hamnet died at the age of 11. In fact, little is known about the nature of Anne and William’s marriage. One of the few details historians have is that upon the Bard’s death, he left his wife his “second-best bed” in his will.  In England at that time, the best bed was typically reserved for guests, while the second-best bed was a couple’s marital bed, meaning William might have been giving Anne a sentimental gift to acknowledge the life they shared together. When Anne Shakespeare died in 1623, she was buried next to her husband in Stratford.

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