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Before William Shakespeare was the great playwright of the age, he was “just Will” fromStratford Upon Avon. The one person in the world who not only loved him before he was famous, but walked beside him for the entire journey from young man with nothing but relentless optimism to successful playwright patronized by the monarchy of England, was his wife, Anne Hathaway. Anne married William in 1582, and by the time Shakespeare was skyrocketing to fame in the 1590s with plays like his Henry VI series, Two Gentlemen of Verona, and Romeo and Juliet, the couple were parents to three children, including one set of twins. In honor of the person who quite literally kept the home fires burning so that the man who conquered the world with his work would have somewhere, and someone, to come home to, our guests this week have compiled a poetic tribute to Anne Hathaway called the Anne-thology. The collection features poetry and sonnets by modern scholars of Anne Hathaway as well as a few written by Anne’s children. In our first ever group interview here on That Shakespeare Life, we are pleased to welcome our friends Chris Laoutaris, Katherine Scheil, Aaron Kent, and Paul Edmondson to tell us more about Anne Hathaway and the making of this memorial poetry collection.

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Aaron Kent is the Founder-Director of Broken Sleep Books, an incredible, award-winning,publisher which does a lot of community and charity work and is one of the most powerful vehicles in poetry and creative writing for the diversification of authorial voices in the literary field. Aaron is a working-class writer, publisher, and stroke survivor from Cornwall, where he was awarded the Awen medal from the Bards of Cornwall for his poetry pamphlet The Last Hundred. His poetry has been translated into languages including French, Spanish, and Kernewek (Cornish). His upcoming collection, The Working Classic, is out in December with the87press. He is working with Stroke and Mind as the creative storyteller telling the stories of stroke survivors to create better mental-health provisions post-stroke.

Paul Edmondson is Head of Research and Knowledge and Director of the Stratford-upon-Avon Poetry Festival for the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. He is the author, co-author, and co-editor of many books and articles about Shakespeare, including Shakespeare: Ideas in Profile (an overview of Shakespeare for the general reader), Twelfth Night: a guide to the text and its Theatrical Life, The Shakespeare Circle: An Alternative Biography and Shakespeare Beyond Doubt: Evidence, Argument, Controversy (both with Stanley Wells for Cambridge University Press), Shakespeare’s Creative Legacies (with Peter Holbrook for The Arden Shakespeare);and Finding Shakespeare’s New Place: an archaeological biography (with archaeologists Kevin Colls and William Mitchell for Manchester University Press). New Places: Shakespeare and Civic Creativity (co-edited with Ewan Fernie is forthcoming with The Arden Shakespeare). 

Katherine Schiel is Professor of English at the University of Minnesota.  She is the author of several books about Shakespeare, including The Taste of the Town: Shakespearean Comedy and the Early Eighteenth-Century Theatre (Bucknell, 2003); Shakespeare/Adaptation/Modern Drama (with Randall Martin, Toronto, 2011);  She Hath Been Reading: Women and Shakespeare Clubs in America (Cornell, 2012); Imagining Shakespeare’s Wife: The Afterlife of Anne Hathaway (Cambridge, 2018); Shakespeare & Biography (with Graham Holderness, Berghahn, 2020); and Shakespeare & Stratford (Berghahn, 2019). She is finishing a book on the history of women and Stratford-upon-Avon, and a book about Shakespeare and biofiction, called Father Shakespeare.

Dr Chris Laoutaris is a biographer, historian, Shakespeare scholar and Associate Professor at The Shakespeare Institute in Shakespeare’s birthplace of Stratford-upon-Avon. His research interests include Shakespeare’s theatres, women’s history (particularly female political and religious activists), the development of the early sciences, and Renaissance politics and espionage. His most recent book, Shakespeare and the Countess: The Battle that Gave Birth to the Globe (Penguin UK, Pegasus USA), was shortlisted for the Tony Lothian Prize for Biography, was Observer Book of the Year, Telegraph Book of the Year, one of the New York Post’s ‘Must-Read Books’, one of the Daily Telegraph’s top ten history holiday reads, and made the Bookseller’s top ten most reviewed books for the season of its release. Laoutaris subsequently signed a two-book deal with HarperCollins, whose William Collins imprint secured the rights in competition with several other major commercial publishers. Pegasus Books (New York) will be releasing Laoutaris’ next two books in North America.

Previous Episodes of That Shakespeare Life:

Lady Elizabeth Russell with Chris Laoutaris

New Discoveries About the First Folio with Chris Laoutaris

Shakespeare’s Coat of Arms with Paul Edmondson

Heminges and Condell with Paul Edmondson

I’ll be asking the Annethology authors about:

  • What do we know about Anne Hathaway and William Shakespeare’s courtship and marriage?
  • When William Shakespeare’s fame grew and he was working in London as a successful playwright, why didn’t Anne Hathaway move to the city with her husband?
  • In this collection you identify Anne Shakespeare’s epitaph as written by both daughters, Susanna and Judith, whereas scholars have historically attributed this epithath to Susanna’s husband John Hall or even sometimes to some other unknown male author. Can you tell us more about Anne’s death, and why you attributed her epitaph to her daughters?
  • …and more!

Books and Resources our guests recommend:

Annethology

Lena Orlin—The Private Life of William Shakespeare. 

Germaine Greer—Shakespeare’s Wife

The Shakespeare Circle—Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells

Imagining Shakespeare’s Wife by Katherine Scheil

Oxford National Biography introductions for Anne Hathaway written by by Katherine Scheil and Paul Edmondson

Here’s what’s available for this episode:

  • Picture of the Wooing Chair
  • Illustration of Anne Hathaway
  • Copy of the sonnet thought to mention Hathaway
  • Picture of Anne Hathaway’s grave site and epithath
  • Picture of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage
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That’s it for this week! Thank you for listening! I’m Cassidy Cash and I hope you learn something new about the bard.

I’ll see you next time!