This summer I had the privilege of visiting Stratford-upon Avon where Shakespeare was born and raised. It is a lovely village, and of course a main tourist attraction. We visited the home on Henley st. that he was born and raised in. It was really quite overwhelming to stand in the very room of his birth. His father was a glover, he made gloves. His shop was attached to the home. I guess you could say he worked out of his home. He apparently was very good at his trade, because he was considered one of the more wealthy citizens of Staford.
Will was born in April of 1564, the third child of eight and the eldest surviving son. Not much is known about Will's education or early years, but you can be sure that he was well educated. His father being an important man in the community and having the means, would have wanted his children to have the best education available.
Staford is close to the Cotswold's which has to be some of the most beautiful country in the world and a major sheep-producing area. The town was built on the banks of the River Avon which is interesting in itself. Avon is the Welsh word for river. When the Romans invaded they kept asking the Welsh guides what the name of this and that river was and they kept responding with Avon :-).
Will was 18 when he married 26 year old Anne Hathaway. Her home was just a couple of miles walking distance over the fields from his. Nothing is much known about their courtship, except that 6 months after the couple were married, Anne delivered a healthy baby daughter, Susanna in 1583. Two years later Anne gave birth to twins Hamnet and Judith in 1585.
After the birth of the twins Shakespeare historical references seem to disappear until he shows up on the scene in London in 1592. There has been speculations that he was a school master. However, there are no records to substantiate this information. There is also a legend that the family had to flee to London because he was being prosecuted for deer poaching. Because of these "urban legends" with no fact behind them the time period between 1585 and 1592 are known as Shakespeare's "Lost Years".
My daughter and I were also able to visit Anne's home this summer as well. What a beautifully situated home. It was rather large for the period and well furnished. We were able to sit on the narrow high back bench that Will and Anne sat on while he was visiting. The gardens are breathtaking! It was easy to see how two young people could fall in love in such surroundings. Anne and Will were very much of the same social status, their father's were both well off men in trade.
I will pick up on Thursday with Will in London beginning his career. Hope you will join me. Be sure to visit HFBRT for a schedule of events on our other member blogs.