6
LOVE AND EARLY MARRIAGE

I hope upon familiarity will grow more
contempt. But if you say 'marry her', I
will marry her. That I am freely
dissolved, and dissolutely.

( Slender, The Merry Wives of Windsor)


Anne Hathaway and the Shottery fields

In a Tudor parish one's life was under review by parents, friends, and neighbours so that almost no change in one's fate went unnoticed. One's private behaviour tended to be observable, too. A young man in the 'May of youth and bloom of lustihood' might, of course, sow his wild oats, but he was likely to hear from the vicar's apparitor and have to explain his fornication and apologize for it. Anyone's sexual affairs, outside marriage, concerned the community, and William's involvement with the Hathaways affected his career even as it touched on a web of social relationships.

The summer of 1582 had favoured lovers and crops. Great spreading green fields cultivated in strips, at Stratford and Shottery, lay in the sun, and the nation's harvest was the best since 1570, or about 20 per cent better than average. 1 Near the end of their new civic year Stratford's council in fact acted with largesse and, for the first time on record, sponsored local mummers. The aldermen were to pay the troupe's leader Davy Jones, whose wife Frances Hathaway was related to Richard Hathaway's people at Shottery. Davy's troupe were to perform at Whitsun a week before Shakespeare's first child was baptized -- and his familiar name would echo in Justice Shallow's

-72-

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Shakespeare: A Life
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Illustrations vii
  • Introduction ix
  • A Note on Conventions Used in the Text xvi
  • I - A Stratford Youth 1
  • 1 - Birth 3
  • 2 - Mother, of the Child 11
  • 3 - John Shakespeares Fortunes 25
  • 4 - To Grammar School 43
  • 5 - Opportunity and Need 60
  • 6 - Love and Early Marriage 72
  • II - Actor and Poet of the London Stage 93
  • 7 - To London-- and the Amphitheatre Players 95
  • 8 - Attitudes 120
  • 9 - The City in September 145
  • 10 - A Patron, Poems, and Company Work 169
  • 11 - A Servant of the Lord Chamberlain 196
  • 12 - New Place and the Country 225
  • III - The Maturity of Genius 249
  • 13 - South of Julius Caesar's Tower 251
  • 14 - Hamlet's Questions 274
  • 15 - The King's Servants 295
  • 16 - The Tragic Sublime 318
  • IV - The Last Phase 351
  • 17 - Tales and Tempests 353
  • 18 - A Gentleman's Choices 382
  • The Arden and Shakespeare Families 412
  • A Note on the Shakespeare Biographical Tradition and Sources for His Life 415
  • Notes 425
  • Index 451
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