Home » Anne Hathaway: William Shakespeare’s Wife

Anne Hathaway: William Shakespeare’s Wife

Anne Hathaway (1556- August 1623)  whose real name was Agnes Hathway was the wife of William Shakespeare who was a well-known playwright, poet as well as and actor.


Anne Hathaway

Childhood of Anne Hathaway wife of Shakespeare


Very little is known about the life of Anne Hathaway, not even her birth year. Her birth year is assumed to be 1556 from the reference to her gravestone which has her age written as 81 in the year 1623.

Anne’s father

Anne Hathaway was born in the Richard Hathaway family and grew up in Shottery, a small village just to the west of Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England. She is assumed to have grown up in the farmhouse that was the Hathaway family home, which is located at Shottery and is now a major tourist attraction for the village.

Anne Hathaway was the eldest of the eight children of the twice-married Richard Hathaway. His first three children, including Anne Hathaway, were by his first wife. His second wife was called Joan with whom he is thought to have had a further five children.

Few facts are known about her early life but it can be safely assumed that she never attended any school and was illiterate. Although she had not received any formal education, Anne would have been an expert in governing the household work.

Her father, Richard Hathaway, was a yeoman farmer. He left Anne the sum of £6 13s 4d (six pounds, thirteen shillings and a fourpence) to be paid “at the day of her marriage”.

Marriage and Family Life of Anne Hathaway

 What was unusual about Shakespeare’s marriage?

When Anne Hathaway was several months pregnant with their first child, William Shakespeare married her in the year 1582. Their marriage was considered strange due to the fact that William was just 18 years old while Anne was 26 years old, making her eight years older than him legally. Because he was a minor under British law, William needed his father’s consent.

According to some accounts, William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway were given a marriage license by the Bishop of Worcester in order to expedite the procedures of a wedding after rumors circulated that they had gotten pregnant before marriage. They married at Temple Grafton, which is around five miles (8 km) from Stratford.

Life of Anne after marriage in Henley Street

As William was not settled in his career when he married, he along with Anne and children continued living with the parents of William. It was a difficult time for Anne to share the house with her in-laws in Henley street as John Shakespeare, the father of William, was also facing a difficult time in his career. He was being

William’s Journey from Stratford to London

Shakespeare left his family and home after the birth of their twins to pursue his career in acting and as a playwright. He travelled to London, where Anne and Shakespeare lived apart for many years until Shakespeare returns in 1611. Meanwhile, Shakespeare’s family included Anne, continued her life in Stratford with her kids and in-laws

How many children did William and Anne Shakespeare have?

Shakespeare and Anne had three children namely Susanna and the twins Hamnet and Judith in 1585. Their daughter Susanna was born six months after the marriage of her parents in 1583.

In 1596 August, Hamnet died at the age of just eleven years. There is no documentation that records the cause of Hamnet’s death but it is highly likely that he died of the plague, which had wreaked so much devastation in London 6 months before. Hamnet was buried in Stratford.

Anne’s daughter Susanna got married to Dr John Hall and gave birth to a girl named Elizabeth Hall.

The last years of Anne’s life were spent living as a widow at New Place in Stratford. In November 1616 her daughter Judith Quinney gave birth to a son and named him Shakespeare Quinney in memory of her dead father, William Shakespeare.

The happiness that the baby gave to Anne and the family was short-lived as Shakespeare Quiney died at just six months old. Anne lived to see the birth of two more grandchildren when Judith gave birth to Richard Quinney in 1617 and Thomas Quinney two years later in 1619.

Anne Hathaway in a Shakespeare Poem

There was no mention of Anne in any of Shakespeare’s plays or Shakespeare works. He had mentioned her only in her will where he wrote: ” I give unto my wife my second best bed.” It is the only thing he left for her, not even his bed which was considered as best.

As the best bed in their house was in the guest room, he gave her wife their marriage bed which he considered as second best. With this, their relationship was considered frosty and harsh.

A poem written by Carol Ann Duffy about the wife of Shakespeare is “Anne Hathaway”. This poem was published in 1999 in the collection of a poem called “The World’s Wife”. It is based on the famous incident from the will of Shakespeare regarding his “second-best bed”.

The writer Duffy imagines the scene that it would be their marriage bed as a remembrance of their love and not their slight. It remembers Anne about their lovemaking as their “romance and drama”.

How old was she when she married Shakespeare?

She married Shakespeare in November 1582, when Shakespeare was 18 and she was 26. This is the only evidence of an inscription on her gravestone. They remained a married couple for the rest of their lives.

How old was Shakespeare when he married Anne Hathaway?

He was 18 years old when he married her. So Anne Hathaway was 8 years older than Shakespeare.

Was she related to Shakespeare?

There is no evidence that suggests that their families were related.

Why did Shakespeare marry Anne Hathaway?

The two likely married because of her pregnancy

How did William Shakespeare meet Anne ?

The hamlet of Shottery was very close to Stratford where William Shakespeare lived with his family (about one mile). Anne Hathaway would have often visited the town and therefore would have had the opportunity to meet William Shakespeare.

Was Anne Hathaway Shakespeare’s cousin?

There is no evidence to suggest they were related.

Is Actress Anne Hathaway related to Shakespeare’s wife?

No (as per what I have researched in her interviews). Her parents were inspired by the name, although they allegedly did think about naming her Catherine instead.

How many children did Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway have?

William Shakespeare and Anne (Hathaway) had Three children. Their first child was Susanna, born in May 1583, six months after William and Anne got married. Susanna was christened on 26 May 1583. Then they had twins – named Hamnet and Judith in January 1585.


Anne Hathaway, the wife of the great Bard, died in 1623 at the age of sixty-seven. Her funeral was on August 6, 1623, and she was buried next to William Shakespeare in the chancel of Holy Trinity Church in Stratford.

A Final Thought

Did Anne Hathaway love Shakespeare? We may never know. But we do know that she outlived him by seven years, spending the rest of her days as a widow at New Place in Stratford. In November 1616, her daughter Judith Quinney gave birth to a son and named him Shakespeare Quinney. Anne Hathaway was a grandmother at the age of fifty-four.

Found info useful?