Anne Shakespeare (née Hathaway) 20 Facts and Speculations on the Life of William Shakespeare’s Wife

                                              Anne Shakespeare (née Hathaway)

              20 Facts and Speculations on the Life of William Shakespeare’s Wife



@ChasquiPenguin (Twitter) has gathered 20 interesting facts about the life of Anne Hathaway:

  1. Anne Hathaway was born in 1556, probably in the Warwickshire village of Shottery, though there are no records of either her date of birth or her baptism.
  2. She was the eldest of yeoman farmer Richard Hathaway’s eight children.
  3. The family lived in a large farmhouse called Hewland Farm, in Shottery.
  4. It is unlikely that Anne could read and write, as girls received no such education in Tudor times.
  5. In 1582 her father died, leaving Anne £6.13.4d in his will, stipulating this sum for his daughter Agnes Hathaway, so it is thought that this was Anne’s baptismal name.
  6. There is mention of Anne continuing to live with her siblings and step-mother after this, so it seems that her father outlived her mother and he married again.
  7. Anne and William Shakespeare were married in the church at Temple Grafton, probably on 30th November 1582. He was 18, she was 26.
  8. There is much confusion over the marriage itself. Worcester diocese records show that on 27th November 1582 a licence was granted for the marriage of William Shaxpere to Anne Whatley. However, the next day a surety bond was posted for the marriage of William Shakespeare to Anne Hathaway. Opinion on this is divided between
  • a clerical error quickly corrected
  • William involved with two women but forced to marry Miss Hathaway who was pregnant with his child
  • the official documents referring to two entirely different marriages.

Most scholars agree that the first is the probable explanation.

  1. Following their marriage the couple lived with William’s parents and siblings in Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon.
  2. In May 1583 their daughter Susanna was born.
  3. Their twins Judith and Hamnet were born in January 1585.
  4. William spent much of their married life living in London, returning to Stratford to visit the family, while it is thought that Anne never travelled to London.
  5. In 1597 William bought New Place, a large house in Stratford, and shortly after this Anne and her daughters moved there, Hamnet having died in 1596.
  6. In 1607 Susanna married Dr John Hall and their daughter Elizabeth, Will and Anne’s first grandchild, was born in 1608.
  7. There is little known, though much speculation, about the relationship between Anne and William during their marriage but he retired to New Place to live with her in his final years, and they were visited by luminaries from the London literary world, including Ben Jonson.
  8. On his death in 1616 William famously left his “second best bed” and furniture to Anne, who lived the rest of her life in New Place. This house was bequeathed to Susanna and her husband by William but the Halls did not move in until after the death of her mother.
  9. There is speculation that the terms of Shakespeare’s will displayed a lack of love and respect for his wife, but there are other indications suggesting that this practice was not uncommon in the era and the children, who were the beneficiaries, were expected to care for their mother.
  10. Anne died on 6th August 1623 and is buried in a grave beside her husband, in the chancel of Holy Trinity Church, Stratford.
  11. There is no extant portrait of Anne other than a drawing by Sir Nathaniel Curzon from 1708 (below). This is said to be of her but was probably traced from an Elizabethan painting. Whether any authenticity can be attached to this drawing is open to speculation but it refers to “Shakespear’s Consort”. While it seems unlikely that any image of her was ever produced if she never visited London, perhaps Will commissioned an artist in Warwickshire.
  12. Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in Shottery is a tourist attraction but this “cottage”, where she was born and grew up, was actually a sizeable 12-roomed house on a 90-acre farm which her brother Bartholomew inherited on the death of their father. It had been built in 1463, as a single-storey home with 3 rooms but was extended by members of the Hathaway family over the years. With mounting debts, the family sold it in 1883, continuing to live in the house as tenants till 1911. However, in 1892 the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust bought it from the then landlord and still own this and the Henley Street house, giving visitors a chance to have a glimpse of the lives of Mr and Mrs William Shakespeare.
A drawing of Anne



The above details are correct to the best of my ability but please let me know if you notice any inaccuracies. I am indebted to a variety of online resources, including The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Twitter: @ChasquiPenguin

When did we become so snobby about the studio audience sitcom?

People complaining about the studio audience laughter track is something that keeps coming up with each new studio sitcom that has been broadcast in recent years, and as a comedy enthusiast and lover of the studio audience sitcom, here’s why I think live studio audience laughter is so important:

Ben Elton introduces the cast of Upstart Crow to the studio audience

British Comedy finds its roots in music hall theatre, which in the early days would mainly have been daft comedy songs performed to an audience in the early 1900s. When BBC radio was becoming established, radio comedy came into being with Bandwaggon! Arthur Askey & Richard “Stinker” Murdoch were responsible for the first ever “sort of” sitcom broadcast with an audience in 1938. The first TV sitcom surprisingly wasn’t Hancock’s Half Hour! It was actually Pinwright’s Progress in 1947! Broadcast live every 2 weeks from Alexandra Palace. Sadly, the only surviving remains of that sitcom are some photographs, but I’m diverting from the point… and that point is that right from the beginning comedy had an audience!

Whether we’re talking about Morecombe and Wise or Monty Python, The Young Ones or The Good Life, Fawlty Towers or Blackadder they all had audience laughter. In fact, you could count the number of sitcoms without laughter on one hand-compared to the hundreds of shows that have it. So that lead me to ask where did this idea of hating studio audience laughter even come from?

The Office is often credited and widely considered to be the sitcom that brought about what is dubbed the single-camera sitcom. The Office is used as shorthand for what people dub “the revolution of comedy without a laughter track” when it was first broadcast in 2001. However , it was actually The Royal Family in 1998 that was the first popular sitcom in the UK not to have a laugh track and a wave of surreal comedy without it was appearing throughout the 90s with shows like ‘The Day Today’ in 1994. If you want to go back further and look across the pond, it was The Simpsons back in 1989 that was the first mainstream success without a laughter track, and they may have happened upon this by accident! The Flintstones proved before it how odd it was to add a laughter track to animation. The Flintstones was famous for popularising the term ‘canned laughter’ although surprisingly a lot of Hanna-Barbera’s early material started out with a genuine audience laughter. Have a look at this expert from the Hanna-Barbera Wikipedia page:

Capture Laugh track

People cottoned onto the laughter not being genuine, noticing the laughs were rather clumsily added and that the sound was oddly compressed – It was canned laughter in every sense of the word!

But I’ll tell you what isn’t canned laughter, and that’s every other sitcom you can think of. Yes, canned laughter is not a real thing that is ever used in British sitcom. Okay look, I can’t say that with 100% certainty but I’ve been to enough recordings of TV and Radio shows and I’ve seen, heard, read and talked to enough people who have been in the audiences for classic sitcoms to know that there would never be a time when a UK sitcom is made in a studio without an audience with the laughter added from the BBC’s sound effects vault and mixed in later, it just would never happen!

A TV show has to factor the studio audience into its budget. I recall reading at the time of Red Dwarf’s first return to TV with ‘Back To Earth’ that there was no budget for a studio audience and it missed that. Similarly, if you watch one of The feature length Only Fools and Horses episodes without the laughter they do lack a certain added something. Why would sitcoms want to take a chunk out of their budget for an audience? Because they matter – actors bounce off the audience. Imagine a stand up routine without an audience, it would be impossible – the studio sitcom is the extension of that. When Film and TV came along and brought plays such as Shakespeare’s into people’s living rooms nobody started saying uggh I hate these plays with their audiences! It’s so much better now that dramas can be made without them. Get rid of the audiences and live plays in theatres, we don’t need them anymore, that would obviously be mad. However, when people say they hate ‘canned laughter’ and studio sitcoms they’re saying a very similar thing.

The sad thing about all this is the people saying this have never been in a sitcom audience. A live TV comedy audience is unlike anything else, it has an intimacy, a warmth and holds the incredible excitement of real television being made before your very eyes and most importantly it’s really funny.

The best sitcom recordings I have ever seen are that of Upstart Crow. The entire cast are fabulous, the atmosphere is electric with excitement and David Mitchell is the perfect Bard. As you’ve probably guessed it’s Upstart Crow and the totally unfair criticism it has occasionally faced just for its laughter in an otherwise brilliant reception for the show that moved me to write this little piece. Even from publications that should know better, such as The Radio Times (who unhelpfully branded the studio audience ‘wildly annoying’).

I was lucky enough to be at a few Upstart recordings this year, and at every recording the audience collectively decided to boo Greene. A few times the scene was reset and the audience were politely asked not to boo – but sometimes the audience just couldn’t resist . It amused me to hear Greene’s boos mixed down in Upstart’s debut episode, just audible enough so you could hear the edge of it if you were listening for it. I was at a Count Arthur Strong recording and much the same thing happened with ‘ohhs’ and ‘ahhs’ for an on-screen kiss. Yes, that’s right, they’re not turning the audience reaction up in the edit, they’re turning it down!

Comparing newly mixed laughter in the digital age to the days of old, the only difference I really notice is a bit of coughing in the mix of the classic sitcoms, which presumably these days can be isolated and removed.

As far as I understand it, the laughter is mixed live… producers, directors and a whole team of people involved in production, sit in what’s known as ‘The box’ and there they put the show together as it’s happening. Some sitcoms were even broadcast the same week as the filming, I believe that The IT Crowd is the most recent example of that practice.

All sitcoms and actually pretty much all TV shows have a warm up comedian: The lovely Laura Lexx is Upstart Crow’s and Mark Olver is another brilliant stand up you will definitely see often if you go to a TV recordings. They do routines to fill the gaps in between scenes or re-takes. Every scene is always recorded twice in a sitcom and scenes that were filmed on location or in another set that couldn’t fit into the studio are shown on monitors – it’s just like watching the TV at home, except your laughter is being recorded and of course every scene is filmed in order. At Upstart Crow the brilliant Ben Elton loves to chat to the audience about the show and even does a bit of warm up himself, sometimes Harry Enfield joins in! And coming back to Count Arthur Strong, Graham Linehan was also keen on receiving audience feedback – yes they care about it.

I’m a fan of all types of comedy and I love the single-camera sitcom. Back, Peep Show, The Mighty Boosh, The Office, you couldn’t add audience laughter to them, and you wouldn’t want to. But my point is we should respect all genres of comedy, particularly the main one: The studio audience sitcom, because comedy, whether it’s happening before your eyes or it’s broadcast on your living room TV, whether it has a laughter track or not, whether you’re watching it with your family, or you’re just one person catching up on the iplayer – a comedy show is nothing without its audience to laugh at it!

More about David Mitchell & Steve Coogan’s new movie


Although previously mentioned by The Times last month it has now been officially confirmed that Steve Coogan and David Mitchell are teaming up for a new movie from Michael Winterbottom, who has previous worked with Coogan on many projects such as The Trip.

Previously titled ‘Greed’, although now apparently untitled, it will tell the story of  “a ruthless, perma-tanned and self-absorbed retail clothing billionaire”, a character description which appears to share some links with Philip Green, the Arcadia Group chairman who owns chains including Topshop and Burton.

The as yet unnamed character will be played by Coogan who’s 60th Birthday party (which is being held in Greece) goes wrong when ‘a mild-mannered journalist’ played by David Mitchell turns up to chronicle his life story, according to reports.

The movie will be “a satirical take on the world of the super-rich,”. Steve Coogan’s role was previously linked to Sacha Baron Cohen who appears now to have stepped away from the project.

Sony Pictures, International Productions and Film4 are behind the movie. It will film this autumn and be in cinemas next year.

As ever I’ll post updates here so keep following us for more information which we expect once shooting begins.