Monday, May 09, 2011

How Old Was Anne Hathaway?

Whenever I see one of these 51 Facts About William Shakespeare lists, I always give it a quick glance to see if a) anything's just wildly wrong, and/or b) to see if there's anything new and interesting that I didn't know.

I like this list. It does seem to cover mostly standard information - when he was born, died, what his father did for a living, etc..

But #11 was new to me:

Because Anne Hathaway Shakespeare's tombstone states she was 67 when she died in 1623, it is generally believed that she was eight years older than her husband. However, the figures 1 and 7 are easily confused--so she might have been 61, only two years older than William.

Is that true? That this is the only information used to give us Anne's age, and that it is questionable? I've never heard that, and I've heard an awful lot of conjecture about William Shakespeare's marriage. I've yet to hear someone say "Anne was almost 10 years older than Shakespeare.....or, not."


shakespearesbeagle said...

Hi there,
It's true that the evidence of the gravestone is all we have to confirm Anne Hathaway's age at death, and the figure 7 could be a 1. But as Schoenbaum points out In his book Records and Images, the reason we don't have her baptismal record is likely to be that she was born before 1558 when the registers begin. Luckily Shakespeare himself was born in 1564 so his baptism is recorded.
Hope this is useful
Sylvia Morris

Giulia said...

I think Anne's life has been very neglected in researchs. I've always wanted to know a bit more about her, but the only book I know entirely about her is half-fictional.
I don't see how that 7 in her gravestone is mistaken with 1. We have 1623 and the numbers are clearly different. 7 is curly and 1 is straight. It seems obvious to me, but well, that'a just me...