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Imagining Shakespeare's Wife
The Afterlife of Anne Hathaway


  • Date Published: June 2018
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108404068

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About the Authors
  • What has been the appeal of Anne Hathaway, both globally and temporally, over the past four hundred years? Why does she continue to be reinterpreted and reshaped? Imagining Shakespeare's Wife examines representations of Hathaway, from the earliest depictions and details in the eighteenth century, to contemporary portrayals in theatre, biographies and novels. Residing in the nexus between Shakespeare's life and works, Hathaway has been constructed to explain the women in the plays but also composed from the material in the plays. Presenting the very first cultural history of Hathaway, Katherine Scheil offers a richly original study that uncovers how the material circumstances of history affect the later reconstruction of lives.

    • Offers the very first cultural history of Anne Hathaway
    • Provides broad chronological coverage from the eighteenth century to contemporary portrayals in theatre, biographies and novels
    • Investigates the global appeal of Anne Hathaway, analysing a wide geographic range of interpretation
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '[It is to] Scheil's credit that while she presents and discusses these myriad Annes, she always keeps the reader aware of the true Anne, the one who we cannot know, who is impossible to know, but who deserves to be acknowledged simply because she is human. Highly recommend.' The Fish Shelf (

    'For over two centuries, scholars and biographers have sought to pluck out the heart of the mystery of Anne Hathaway and her marriage to William Shakespeare. As Katherine West Scheil brilliantly shows in these pages, Anne Hathaway has variously been depicted as supportive, adulterous, independent, doting, and predatory (portrayals that reveal much about the critical tradition and the obsessions of those who have long maligned her). A fascinating and timely work of cultural history.' James Shapiro, author of 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare

    'Loyal wife and dutiful housekeeper? Youthful folly and life-long burden? Muse or mischief maker? This comprehensive study fascinatingly charts the fluctuating attempts to flesh out the life records of Shakespeare's wife and the story of their lives both together and apart.' Sir Stanley Wells, CBE, Honorary President, The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

    '… there is a double pleasure to Scheil's generously open book that is keenly aware of the limitations of academic writing … It is not only a history of Anne Hathaway and Shakespearean scholarship, but also the change in cultural attitudes and ways of reading since Hathaway's death.' Edward Behrens, Globe Magazine

    'Drawing on old biographies, novels and plays, Katherine West Scheil documents how for more than 200 years Anne Hathaway has been used as a keyhole through which to spy on the playwright as husband and lover. Her review of these varying interpretations demonstrate that Anne has been distorted to fit the Shakespeare each writer or era wanted to see.' Alex Colville, The Spectator

    '… fairly easy to read and contains a lot of great analysis about the ways Anne Hathaway has been interpreted throughout history. … if you want to know more about the Bard and his wife, this is a book to read.' Inside the Mind of a Bibliophile Blog (

    'As Scheil observes, there is no progress from misogyny to idealization in literary treatments of the literary marriage, but it has proved surprisingly rich as an inspiration.' Lois Potter, The Times Literary Supplement

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2018
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108404068
    • length: 294 pages
    • dimensions: 227 x 153 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.49kg
    • contains: 40 b/w illus. 2 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Origins
    2. Forging the Shakespeare marriage: Anne Hathaway in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries
    3. The legacy of Anne Hathaway's cottage
    Interlude: fact and fiction
    4. 'Fit to marry': early imaginary Annes
    5. Post-war imaginary Annes
    6. Anne Hathaway for a female audience

  • Author

    Katherine West Scheil, University of Minnesota
    Katherine West Scheil is Professor of English at the University of Minnesota. Her previous works have focused on the reception history of Shakespeare, and include The Taste of the Town: Shakespearian Comedy and the Early Eighteenth-Century Theater (2003), Shakespeare, Adaptation, Modern Drama, co-edited with Randall Martin (2011) and She Hath Been Reading: Women and Shakespeare Clubs in America (2012).

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