When it comes to William Shakespeare and women, he was well known for being a womaniser and having mistresses, but it wasn’t always so.
In Shakespeare’s younger days, he was a rather nerdy teenager, didn’t really have a fancying for girls and truth be known, secretly admired several other boys in his class at school.
When he proclamied his ambition to be a writer, a playright at that, his family assured him that he would never be successful if he didn’t have a wife. The problem was, young William Shakespeare just didn’t fancy any of the women in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon.
A friend of the family suggested an introduction to a young woman who lived in a nearby village. Anne, who was a comely woman, was rumoured to have “ways” to charm young men. In other words, she was drop dead gorgeous and knew a few tricks that would have any man desiring her and falling head over heels in love with her.
Well, the introduction was made and surprise, it did the trick. Within weeks, young William was a changed man. Indeed, he had become a man as Anne worked her charms and magic on him.
Within months they were married and afterwards, whenever they saw them together, townsfolk would gossip among themselves saying that they thought William Shakespeare would end up gay, but having been introduced to this gorgeous young girl, it was patently clear that Anne hath a way.
I would hope that most fans of William Shakespeare would appreciate the pun here, but for those of you who didn’t get it, I shall explain.
William Shakespeare was born in April 1564 and grew up in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire in the heart of England. He married Anne Hathaway (got the pun yet?) in 1582, when Anne was 26 and William was just 18. Anne was born and grew up in the nearby village of Shotover and the house that she grew up in is now one of various buildings that are looked after by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
If you have the opportunity to visit England and spend a day or two in Stratford-upon-Avon, among the places you can visit are Shakespeare’s Birthplace, the house that William grew up in, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and also Mary Arden’s Farm (Mary Arden was William’s Mother). All are well worth a visit and have demonstrations of what it was like to live in Elizabethan times.
Painting of William Shakespeare. Image used under a Collective Commons License from https://ndla.no/subject:a1af12e8-0911-4c9c-ad29-dc1a42065c45/topic:70402e78-cf06-4146-9728-6fd146a2b6fd/topic:2356d6df-ea84-4541-9d7e-d90996800ad2/resource:6cf8ff32-b7f1-4a30-b44d-88b82f94fa9f?filters=urn:filter:a81148de-fb95-4e41-b000-57b268337e2d
Photos of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and Shakespeare’s Birthplace are copyright Tony Payne