Anne Hathaway

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Anne Hathaway was Shakespeare’s wife. He married her in 1582 and they had three children, Susanna, the eldest, and twins, Hamnet and Judith. Hamnet sadly died when he was twelve. Although Anne was older than Shakespeare, she outlived him, and famously, he left her his ‘second best bed’ in his will. Shakespeare worked in London, but it is clear that he made regular visits to his home in Stratford-on-Avon and both his house and Anne Hathaway’s cottage can still be seen. It is likely that the second best bed was the one which he shared with his wife, while the best bed was kept for visitors, and this is the idea that Duffy explores in her poem.

As well as plays, Shakespeare wrote a large number of sonnets, mostly about love, and it is this form that is used here, to give Anne Hathaway a voice. The poem is written in iambic pentameter, Shakespeare’s rhythm, and ends with a rhyming couplet, as do all his sonnets. Again, like William’s sonnets, this uses an extended metaphor to compare their nights together to Anne’s husband’s wonderful writing and to celebrate his achievements both as a writer and a lover.

The first two lines are a tribute to Shakespeare’s imagination, where the bed becomes the whole world, encompassing "forests, castles, torchlight, clifftops, seas/where he would dive for pearls" suggesting not only the varied settings of Shakespeare’s plays, but also areas of sexual pleasure. His words are "shooting stars" which light up the universe, but which for Anne "fell to earth as kisses / on these lips". The rest of the world may have the benefit of the words, but


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