LeAnn's Reviews > Mistress Shakespeare

Mistress Shakespeare by Karen Harper
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Nov 26, 2010

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Read from November 22 to 26, 2010

I enjoyed this "what-if" drawn from a single line in a legal register from 1582 that had Shakespeare applying for a marriage bond to a woman named Anne Whately the day before he applied for one for Anne Hathaway, who was pregnant. Harper, assuming that the first Anne was no mistake and was a love match, imagines what might have happened if Shakespeare had two wives.

Having recently read Peter Ackroyd's biography of Shakespeare, I recognized many of the details known about his life and milieu as well as the Ackroyd's influence in guessing at Shakespeare's character. Harper mentions two other scholars who have previously argued for a second wife, so it's an old theory -- one with some teeth, given what little we do know about him. Unlike others in the London drama scene at that time, for example, Shakespeare was singularly focused and not known for wild living. Having a London wife would explain his lack of general carousing.

Still, I would have liked for a story with a bit more grandeur and sweep. After all, this was the Elizabethan age and Shakespeare.
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