Although, in 1575 when he was eleven, there was agreat plague in the country and Queen Elizabethjourneyed out of London to avoid its consequences andstayed for several days at Kenilworth Castle nearStratford enjoying festivities arranged by her hostLord Leicester. It is probable these events may havemade a strong impact on the mind of young William. At the age of Eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway, eightyears his senior. Five years later he left for London. William worked at the Globe Theatre and appeared inmany small parts. He first appeared in public as a poetin 1593 with his Venus and Adonis and the followingyear with The Rape of Lucrece.
He became jointproprietor of The Globe and also had an interest in theBlackfriars Theatre. The play writing commenced in 1595 and of the 38 playsthat comprise the Shakespeare Cannon, 36 were publishedin the 1st Folio of 1623, of which 18 had beenpublished in his lifetime in what are termed the Quartopublications. Love’s Labour’s Lost and The Comedy of Errors appearto be among the earliest, being followed by The TwoGentlemen of Verona and Romeo and Juliet. Then followedHenry VI, Richard III, Richard II, Titus Andronicus,The Taming of the Shrew, King John, The Merchant ofVenice, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, All’s Well that EndsWell, Henry IV, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Henry V,Much Ado about Nothing, As you like it, Twelth Night,Julius Caesar, Hamlet, Troilus and Cressida, Othello,Measure for Measure, Macbeth, King Lear, Timon ofAthens, Pericles, Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus,Cymbeline, A Winter’s Tale, The Tempest, Henry VIII andThe Two Noble Kinsmen. When he retired from writing in 1611, he returned toStratford to live in a house which he had built for hisfamily. His only son, Hamnet died when still a child.
He also lost a daughter Judith (twin to Hamnet), buthis third child Susanna married a Stratford Doctor,John Hall and their home Hall’s Croft is todaypreserved as one of the Shakespeare Properties andadministered by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. In 1616 Shakespeare was buried in the Church of theHoly Trinity the same Church where he wasbaptised in 1564. Tradition has it that he died afteran evening’s drinking with some of his theatrefriends. His gravestone bears the words:-Good frend for Jesus sake forebeare,to digg the dust encloased heare,Bleste be ye man yt spares thes stones,And curst be he yt moves my bones. In his will Shakespeare left his wife, the former AnneHathaway, his second best bed.
We cannot be sure of thereason for this. It may have been the marital bed thebest bed being reserved for guests. It may suggest thatthey had a not altogether happy marriage whichnevertheless produced three children, Susanna, born onMay 26th 1583 and twins , Hamnet and Judith, born onFebruary 2nd 1585. These entries appear in the HolyTrinity Register.
There is no direct evidence of the marriage of WilliamShakespeare to Anne Hathaway although most historiansaccept that an entry in the Bishop’s Register atWorcester in November 1582 regarding the issue of amarriage licence to William Shaxpere and Anne Whateleyof Temple Grafton does not refer to the famous bard. However the following day a guarantee of ?40 wasundertaken in Stratford by two yeomen of the townagainst the prevention of the legal marriage of WilliamShagspere and Anne Hathway on only one reading of thebanns. In 1582 , ?40 was a considerable sum of moneyand one cannot believe that the simple fact of Anne’sbeing three months pregnant would warrant it. Nomarriage of an Anne Whatelely has ever been traced,neither has the marriage of Anne Hathway, but lack ofrecord does not mean that it did not happen.