Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway, was born in 1556. Shakespeare was eight years younger than her. When they married in 1582 he was eighteen and she was twenty-six. She was pregnant at the time and whatever their relationship was like – which we don’t know anything about – he had no alternative other than to marry her because it was socially unacceptable for a woman of her standing to have a child without being married.
Anne Hathaway was the eldest of the eight children of a farmer, Richard Hathaway. They lived in a big farmhouse, called Hewland Farm in the village of Shottery, one mile from Stratford. When Richard died in 1581 she continued to live with her siblings and step-mother in the farmhouse, which is now known as Anne Hathaway’s cottage – one of the most visited tourist buildings in England. When she married she went to live with her husband in his parents’ house in Henley Street, Stratford.
The Shakespeares had two daughters and a son. Their son Hamnet died, aged eleven. It is generally thought that he died of the plague. (Read more about Shakespeare’s family.)