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Shakespeare's Wife by Germaine Greer


Shakespeare’s Wife by Germaine Greer was the book from which I had to take a hiatus to read The Obamas.  The first several chapters, especially the ones recounting the genealogical history of the Hathaway and Shakespeare families, were fascinating.  Then the middle chapters started to drag.  When I came back to the book, the remaining chapters sucked me right back in.

Shakespeare scholar Greer attempts to shed new light on the controversial figure of Ann Hathaway, William Shakespeare’s wife.  Hathaway has long been maligned as the spinster strumpet who seduced her boy-husband and entrapped him into marriage with an out-of-wedlock pregnancy.  These are charges usually made by other scholars based upon little to no proof.  Scholars also contend that Shakespeare was himself embittered by the marriage and grew to resent the wife from whom he may (or may not) have spent long periods of time physically estranged while he pursued playing in theater and writing—assumptions again made based upon little to no proof or upon misinterpretations of historical context and social mores of the time period.

Greer uses church records, court records, and other contemporary records as well as historical research on the time period, its social customs, practices, mores, and culture to re-draw the portrait of Ann Hathaway.  What is more frustrating is that Greer shares in the book how we will never know certain details about Shakespeare and his private life, including his family, because Shakespeare himself was a very private man and as a result there survives no personal correspondence written by the playwright himself.

Fans of William Shakespeare, historical mysteries, and literature will enjoy this book, which is available in county.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie

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