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The following is an imagined account from the life of Anne Shakespeare (also known as Anne Hathaway), William Shakespeare's wife. Anne and William married in 1582 and had three children.


Of course I was captivated by him – who wasn’t? He spoke beautifully – it was like listening to music on occasion – and he loved reading poems aloud to me. He jumbled up several sonnets which were addressed to me in his collection of 1609, and one of them – Sonnet 145 – puns on my family’s name. I had said I hated him, for getting me pregnant, but no one could hate Will for very long. I liked to pull his leg about how he lived up to his name in more ways than one. Strong-willed, passionate, always after his own way (which he usually got). Like the purchase of New Place. He really pushed for that, and how proud I was moving into the largest house in the borough and becoming mistress of it. I knew there were probably mistresses in London. Tom Greene, his distant cousin, who liked lodging with us, told me about his lawyer friend at the Middle Temple, John Manningham, nicknaming him William the Conqueror. But I turned a blind eye, because he had conquered me. As the children got older, I used to go down to London from time to time to see him and his latest play at the Globe.

We did miss him at New Place, especially during the Christmases when he was performing at court, but he’d come back during Lent and at other times, always laden with gifts for us all: the new spices and delicacies from the merchant ships, and then we would feast – far into the evenings, often a suckling pig or two for our Stratford neighbours or visiting actor colleagues. I was proud of my housekeeping, and the money I made from all that malting! My William was taken from me much too young. When he lay dying, he called me in to discuss his will and explained he had to refer to my widow’s rights as leaving me the second-best bed. The bequest had to be squeezed in to the late draft, but it was all part of my continuing to live at New Place once Susanna and John had taken over. But there was nothing ‘second-best’ about the bed we shared. ‘Where there’s a will, there’s always a way’, he would often joke, winking at me.

Cast: Lucy Morris

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