Here I am at the final resting place of the reigning god of the English language William Shakespeare. This is the church where he was christened and is now buried with his wife beside him. I thought it was free to enter religious buildings....it was but I had to pay £1.50 to see the grave.
Shakespeare was respected when he was alive but it was only in 19th century the gravity of his work assumed mega tonnage weight and now he bleeds into the pages of most literature today. How can so little be known about such a literary colossus? His wisdom, insight into the human condition and the way he could load an anvil-weight of meaning into two or three sentences means his plays are performed more often than those of any other playwright.
Only crumbs of information are available about him though nobody really knows of his physical appearance, sexuality, height, religious beliefs, timbre of his voice, writing locations, hobbies or temperature of friendliness. Scholars know only of the writer but not the person. They know his works include 138198 commas and 15785 question marks but not if he was four feet high or had any teeth left in adulthood. He rarely used the word “also”.
The photos show me here at the cottage of Anne Hathaway whom Shakespeare married at aged 178. You can see from the photos I touched the bed - and many other bits of wood and plaster in the hope that I put my fingers where Shakespeare had done once.
Shakespeare had eight children but only three lived. What a pity not a single heir exists today. The children who left no vapour trails of lineage were:-
Susanna Hall (died aged 66). She married a local physician and they had one daughter Elizabeth who married twice but had no children.
Twins who were:-
Hamnet (died aged 11.) Its doubtful Shakespeare saw much of him. When Hamnet was a tot Shakespeare was a popular playwright based in London. It’s not known how Hamnet died but at that time about one in three children died from Bubonic Plague.
Judith (died aged 77.) She had married and bore three children but she outlived them all. She was married at the church shown in the photos and buried there (exact location unknown.)
In keeping with the few crumbs of information known of Shakespeare nobody knows how he died at 52. Aged 49 he returned home to Stratford. Perhaps he foresaw his death as he wrote his will months before he died however he began it writing that he was in “perfect health.”
He left £350 in cash, four furnished houses and some land. There was probably a hoard of personal stuff still in London but it was lost in the Great Fire Of London. Probably a bigger loss is information about the genius. It seems nobody gleaned any information from his children and grandchildren. What was their father/grandfather like? I’ve read he wore an earring in his left ear, that his first job was holding horses outside theatres, he was a Catholic and he liked the smelling his own trumps. But who knows?
Am I really touching the bed Shakespeare touched?!