=Marriage!
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On November 28, 1582 the Bishop of Worcester issued the marriage bond for "William Shagspere" and "Ann Hathwey of Stratford." This was, almost beyond doubt, Anne Hathaway, daughter of Richard Hathaway of Shottery--a gathering of farm houses near Stratford.
The bond certificate reveals that an eighteen year old William married the twenty-six and pregnant Anne. Barely seven months later, they had his first daughter, Susanna. Anne never left Stratford, living there her entire life.

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Nice work Bill! Oh wait...wrong Anne Hathaway?

Richard Hathaway's will does not specify a daughter Anne, but names her Agnes, a name used interchangeably for Anne in the sixteenth century. He was a substantial, Warwickshire farmer with a spacious house and fields.
The banns were asked only once in church, rather than the customary three times, because the bride was some three months pregnant and there was reason for haste in concluding the marriage. She was eight years older than her new husband William.

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8 years is nothing


We can only wonder if Shakespeare was speaking for himself in A Midsummer Night's Dream:
Lysander: The course of true love never did run smooth;

But either it was different in blood...

Or else misgraffed in respect of years--

Hermia: O spite! too old to be engage'd to young.
Or in Twelfth Night:
Duke: Then let thy love be younger than thyself,

Or thy affection cannot hold the bent;

For women are as roses, whose fair flow'r

Being once display'd doth fall that very hour.


The only mention of his wife in Shakespeare's will is the famous bequest of his "second best bed." Whether as a fond remembrance or a bitter slight is not known.
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