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Hamnet Shakespeare

What happened to William Shakespeare's only son?

Hamnet Shakespeare was the only son of William Shakespeare, and a twin to Judith. Hamnet Shakespeare was named after Hamnet Sadler, a friend of the Shakespeare family.  Hamnet died at the age of 11 in and was buried in Stratford-upon-Avon on 11 August 1596. The cause of Hamnet’s death is unknown, and it is not clear whether his father was able to attend his funeral in Stratford. Many scholars argue that the pain of losing a beloved son is echoed most strongly in the words of Constance in the history play, King John:

CONSTANCE

Grief fills the room up of my absent child,
Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me,
Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,
Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form.
Then, have I reason to be fond of grief?
Fare you well: had you such a loss as I,
I could give better comfort than you do.
I will not keep this form upon my head,
When there is such disorder in my wit.
O Lord! my boy, my Arthur, my fair son!
My life, my joy, my food, my all the world!

(King John, Act III, Scene 4)

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