Study Guide

William Shakespeare Anne Hathaway

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Anne Hathaway

No records survive for the grammar school in Stratford, so we don't know exactly when Shakespeare entered and left. The only hard facts we have about the first 28 years of Shakespeare's life come from church records. On 28 November 1582, the Bishop of Worcester issued a marriage license to "William Shagspere" and "Ann Hathwey." This confirmed the marriage of William Shakespeare, then 18 years old, and Anne Hathaway, the 26-year-old daughter of a local farmer. She was already pregnant at the time of their marriage; six months after their wedding, the couple baptized their daughter, Susanna. Two years later, Anne Hathaway gave birth to twins, a son named Hamnet and a daughter named Judith.

No records exist of what Shakespeare was up to between 1585 and 1592, a period often referred to by Shakespeare scholars as the "Lost Years." Some early biographies speculated that he was forced to flee Stratford after he was caught poaching deer on a neighbor's property—this was a pretty serious offense at the time. Other theories hold that he was employed as a butcher, a teacher, or a clerk in a local attorney's office. How did he become involved the theater world? When did he leave Stratford and set out for London? We don't know. All we know for sure is that by 1592, Shakespeare had become popular enough to be hated.

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