Thursday, January 14, 2010

Anne Hathaway

I was under the impression that actress Anne Hathaway, who played an awkward American teen in “The Princess Diaries” and who was Jake Gyllenhaal’s long-suffering wife in “Brokeback Mountain,” was another example of a movie star who had been born with a name that didn’t seem right for film publicity, the way Greta Gustafsson’s last name had to be changed to Garbo.

So I thought that this young woman chose, as a nom de movie, the name of William Shakespeare’s wife: Anne Hathaway.

But none of that is true; actress Anne Hathaway was born Anne Hathaway.

However, this interesting factoid got me to thinking about Will Shakespeare’s marriage. Most people don’t think of our greatest playwright as a family man, but he was, with three kids, by the time he was 21.

In fact, he had been forced to get married. As a lad, he had gotten mixed up with an older woman. (Did they have “cougars” back then?)

Actually, Anne wasn’t all that old, but she was eight years older than teenager Will. One embarrassment was that Anne had to go with her family to get the marriage license; the guy she was marrying was a minor so he couldn’t do it.

Years later Shakespeare wrote these lines:
“Between the acres of the rye
These pretty country folk would lie.”

And that’s evidently pretty much what they did.

From the evidence that exists, it would appear that young Will was not all that eager to get married. However, in his Puritan community once it was determined that Ms Hathaway was definitely preggers there weren’t many other choices. And Anne would certainly have insisted.

James Joyce put it this way: “Shakespeare hath a Will, but Anne Hathaway.”


Tess Kincaid said...

Heh-heh, love the Joyce. I just got a whole boat load of him from the library, btw.

Berowne said...

Willow: Good. There's a whole generation of folks now who, when I recommend going to the library for such-and-such a book, seem honestly not to know what I'm talking about. :-)

French Fancy... said...

One thing I discovered from one of my courses a couple of years ago is that Shakespeare was in face bi-sexual and most of his sonnets were written to a pretty young man,

Berowne said...

FF: That's a fascinating subject. Will's sexuality -- homo, hetero, bi, whatever -- is far from an established fact, and a lot has been written on it. (Quite a bit by me too, actually. :-D)

If it's not too boring a subject, I'd like to devote a post to it some time in the future. Thanks, FF, for your interest.

Rosaria Williams said...

Interesting and instructive. I didn't know poor Will was mothered so.

Jeanie said...

I have heard those rumors about Will. I'll be looking for you to set the record straight.

Berowne said...

lakeviewer: "Interesting and instructive."

Thanks for the kind words, lv.

Berowne said...

Jeanie: "I have heard those rumors about Will."

If there's one thing that's not lacking in the scholarly field of Shakespeare Studies, it's rumors. Rumors about his sexuality, his religion (or lack of it) -- even the never-to-die rumor that he wasn't even HIM; he was somebody else. :-)

G said...

Cougars back then? But of course. I'm sure there have always been women and men of every age interested in women and men of every age. :) I think Will was living in a time when we were less concerned about putting people in tidy boxes.

Berowne said...

Blog Princes G: "...a time when they were less concerned about putting people in tidy boxes."

You're probably right. Today, whether we like it or not, we often find ourselves living in boxes -- little boxes, and they're all made out of ticky-tacky, and they're all (or nearly all) just the same. :-)

Cynthia L. H. said...

A very interesting bit of history. Love the quote at the end.
I just read a great little two page piece by Virginia Woolf, entitled, "What If Shakespeare Had Had a Sister?"
Great thought...
Have you read it?

Berowne said...

Cynthia L. H.: Yes, but long ago. As I recall, a bit depressing. V. Woolf felt that if Shakespeare had had a sister, as great a genius as Will himself, she would have ended -- because of all the restrictions and prejudices she would have had to face -- by killing herself. Probably all quie true.

P.S. Only a narrow-minded, literal, petty type such as I would take the trouble to point out that Shakespeare indeed did have a sister -- actually, more than one.
And one of the more fascinating pieces of staggeringly irrelevant trivia about Will S. is that he had two sisters named Joan.

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