Shakespeare\'s will on display
Shakespeare wrote most of his will as he lay dying in Stratford in 1616 Getty Images

Whether you are secretly convinced Shakespeare was gay or questioning whether he even existed or not, a William Shakespeare did marry Anne Hathaway 435 years ago.

And the union was quite the scandal for that period.

Perhaps it was because the lovely Hathaway was about 25-26 years old whilst Shakespeare would have been about 17 to 18 years old. It is possible that at the time, Anne would have been considered an 'old maid', having never been married before meeting him. However, 18 was a rather young age for a man to get married.

Actually, the legal age of consent being 21, Shakespeare was a minor and would have had to ask for his father's permission to marry Hathaway.


Another juicy bit would be that their marriage was all a bit rushed, and for good reasons. Anne was already about three to four months pregnant when the pair tied the knot. At the time, a child born out of wedlock was one of the biggest sins one could commit. So William and Anne probably hopped down the aisle to keep the pregnancy secret. Of course, nowadays, many couples have children before they marry, if they marry at all.


There is some speculation on how smitten with each other the two had been. Hathaway, although from a wealthy family - and having a generous dowry - was most likely illiterate. She could have never participated in Shakespeare's passion, nor read his play or sonnets. That part of their union might surprise some today. At the time, love was not a reason for matchmaking. Money, social advancement and literally anything but feelings were taken into consideration.


The lack of romance between the couple meant Shakespeare would cheat on his wife often. Adultery was common back in the day, and shortly after the birth of his twins, Judith and Hamnet - sounds familiar? - Shakespeare moved to London and left Hathaway behind with their spawn.

Several of his poems are believed to be dedicated to different lovers - including men. That would not make Shakespeare husband of the year nowadays, but cheating on one's partner is still trendy in modern times.


Perhaps the most terrible thing Shakespeare did to his spouse - apart from leaving her to raise their children, letting her go through the loss of their son alone - Hamnet died of bubonic plague at 11 - and repeatedly cheating on her, that is - has to do with his will.


The Bard of Avon only left her one item: his second best bed. The sting is even greater when one realises that by the time he died, Shakespeare had made a good fortune for himself and was living with Hathaway in Stratford. However, the "best bed" in the house is assumed to have been the one in their guestroom, while the second was their matrimonial bed. No one knows if Shakespeare was shunning his wife or leaving her with an intimate gift.


William Shakespeare, with his sharp wit and colourful personal life, was definitely a modern man for his day and age. Whether he was a good man is an entirely different matter.