The fact is that after his marriage to Anne Hathaway at the age of 18, and the birth of his children (Susannah six months later, and twins Judith and Hamnet two years later) we have no records for William Shakespeare until he turned up in London as a man of 28.
One of the most popular stories from these “lost years” is that he was caught poaching on Sir Thomas Lucy’s land at Charlecote Park, which is situated just 4 miles away from his home in Stratford-upon-Avon. Some say that this is the main reason for him fleeing the area and pursuing his fortune in the capital.
There is no contemporary record of this story having taken place and it is widely discredited. However, it does appear on separate occasions in later accounts of Shakespeare’s life, such as in rough manuscript notes of a Gloucestershire clergyman Richard Davies who died in 1708, and in an account by writer Nicholas Rowe who died in 1718. Therefore there may be some truth to the story.
Regardless of whether it is a true tale of events or not, the story stuck, in visual culture as well as the written accounts. This 19th century oil painting in the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Collections shows ‘The Deer-stealing Episode at Charlecote’ with the unfortunate Shakespeare at the bottom right, and Sir Thomas Lucy on his horse before the gate. The artist is unknown.