Did Shakespeare ever have a family of his own?

Expert Answers
Stephen Holliday eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although documentary evidence of Shakespeare's life is difficult to find, there is sufficient evidence to give us the bare facts of Shakespeare's family life.

We know, for example, that while Shakespeare was still a minor and living with his parents, John and Mary, in Stratford-upon-Avon,  he married Anne Hathaway in November, 1582.  Anne Hathaway, whose family lived near Stratford, was several years older than Shakespeare and was most likely pregnant with her first child before the actual marriage ceremony took place.  Hathaway's family was apparently fairly well off because Anne Hathaway's father, Richard, left her a substantial house--much better than Shakespeare's family home--in his will.  From this, we assume that Shakespeare married "up."

Shakespeare's first child, a daughter named Susanna, was christened on May 26, 1583, in Stratford's parish church.  In 1585, the Shakespeare's had twins, a boy and a girl, who were christened on February 2, 1585, as Hamnet (who died in 1596) and Judith, and these two children completed William Shakespeare's immediate family.  We know that in 1598, Judith, who had married a man named Sadler, produced a son whose name was William, William Shakespeare's only grandchild.

By 1585, then, before he had reached his "majority" of 21, William had a wife and three children.  From 1585 until 1592, evidence of Shakespeare and his family is virtually non-existent.  Anne Shakespeare is perhaps best known for the fact that Shakespeare, in his will, gave Anne his "second best bed with the furniture."