A Life of William Shakespeare

By Joseph Quincy Adams | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER VI
DEPARTURE FROM STRATFORD

AFTER his marriage to Anne Hathaway, William, then in his nineteenth year, brought his bride, who was twenty- six, to the crowded little home in Henley Street. And there, six months later, in May, 1583, a daughter was born to them, who was baptized in the Stratford church with the name Susanna. A year and nine months later Mrs. Shakespeare presented her youthful husband with twins, a boy and a girl. Shakespeare took them to the Stratford church, and christened them Hamnet and Judith, after his friend Hamnet Sadler and Hamnet's wife Judith. Thus he had ceased to be what Bagehot characterizes as "an amateur in life," and was called upon to assume the vexing problems and responsibilities of the paterfamilias.

But how was he to provide for his wife and children? We may suppose that for a time he continued to work as an apprentice on small wages or none. Yet the pecuniary embarrassment of John Shakespeare could hardly have been helped by the coming of a second family to his home; nor could William expect to remain indefinitely in the crowded little Henley Street house, now taxed beyond its capacity by his father, his mother, his brothers, and his sister, besides himself, his wife, and his three children. The fact must have been painfully obvious to him as he approached his majority that, having given hostages to fortune, he was under the necessity of finding some employment which would enable him to support his present station in life. It is not strange, therefore, that when he was about twenty-one years of age he left the shelter of

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