Anne Hathaway: The Truth About William Shakespeare's Wife

You may have read that Oscar Award-winning actress Anne Hathaway married William Shakespeare's doppelganger, Adam Shulman. Of course, as Smithsonian notes, people still debate the Bard's true identity, and contemporaries didn't describe what he looked like. So "William Shakespeare" might actually be a pseudonym and portraits of him might actually show a pseudo-face, in which case Shulman looks like a total phony. Regardless, the part that makes this resemblance particularly striking is that Anne Hathaway shares her name with Shakespeare/Fakespeare's spouse.

In a Wired Autocomplete interview, the Princess Diaries star acknowledges that her parents named her after the playwright's wife. Maybe the Hathaways had even more in common. Did Shakespeare's leading lady also sing inside a coffin? Was her marriage to Shakespeare as Les Miserable as one of his tragedies? There may be more eerie coincidences than you thought.

A wife by any other name

The daughter of a yeoman farmer, Anne Hathaway lived with her family in a farmhouse in Shottery, England, less than a mile and a half away from Shakespeare's birthplace. Per the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Hathaway also went by the alias Agnes, which comes from the Greek word "Hagne," meaning "pure" or "chaste." That brings us to another interesting — albeit forced — similarity to the actress Anne Hathaway, who famously played Fantine in Les Miserables. A factory foreman refers to Fantine as "virtuous" and "pure." She is, as NPR contributor Barrie Hardymon put it, "sainted." Meanwhile, Agnes is the name of a saint.

No one knows St. Hathaway's precise birthdate, but the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust explains that when she tied the knot with Shakespeare in 1582, the average age of marriage was 26. Sources consistently list that as Hathaway's age at marriage. So we're left to assume that she was at least born in the vicinity of 1556. Whatever Hathaway's age, Shakespeare was underage. Just 18 years old, he was legally a minor when he said "I doth." But Hathaway wasn't so much robbing the cradle as preparing to fill one. She was three months pregnant at the ceremony. The couple had three children: Susana Judit, and Hamnet. Hathaway died in 1623, seven years after her husband.