Shakespeare’s two Annes: 2. Shakespeare’s Other Anne (second part)

The mysterious Anne Whateley of Temple Grafton

Here is the first part

It is believed that after Shakespeare’s marriage to Anne Hathaway, the other Anne vanished into local legend. There are, however, various theories about her.
One claims that she really married the teenager Shakespeare in secret, and then retired to the secluded manor house of Hillborough, located in the parish of Temple Grafton, becoming a Catholic ‘sacred nun’, just like two of her brothers, who worked secretly as priests in Henley-in-Arden. So Anne or Agnes may have kept up the family tradition and served as a nun in that secluded manor.
Stratford lore insists that Hillborough Manor is haunted by a White Lady, who is believed to be the unhappy ghost of Shakespeare’s rejected lover.

Others say that, although she went to live as a nun while Shakespeare started a family in Stratford, their intimate friendship continued until it was broken up by Hathaway’s jealousy, which eventually forced Shakespeare to leave for London.

According to another hypothesis she was already living a secluded life among the Augustinian nuns , also known as White Ladies , when she met Shakespeare. They fell in love, and Anne was about to leave the order to marry him when Hathaway revealed her pregnancy. After that she continued to be his “lover and consort in their spiritual union”.

But Shakespeare never forgot her. In his lesser known poem “A Lover’s Complaint” , he writes about one of his early achievements, which was “to charm a sacred nun” , a ‘sister sanctified of holiest note’, a holy sister who had taken a vow and rejected many high-lineage suitors, whose love apparently had restored him to health.

Biographer John Aubrey (1626 – 1697), known for his vivid, intimate, and sometimes sharp sketches of his contemporaries, reported that Shakespeare “was wont to go to his native Country once a year”, adding, “I think I have been told that he left 2 or 300 pounds per annum there and thereabout to a sister.

Another theory suggests she was so broken-hearted when he got married that she decided to leave and flee to London. When Will arrived there too, they met again still attracted to each other, but he was a married man and Anne became his greatest friend, an ardent supporter of his works, orchestrating his career and influencing his writing.
Or maybe she fled to Italy, where she acquired the knowledge that would later be used in Shakespeare’s Italian plays. She may also have helped him write these and other works, while others argue that she is one of the possible authors of the Bard of Avon‘s works.

In any case she was remarkably talented, and some scholars even claim it was she who wrote the sonnets as a gift to Shakespeare, telling the story of her spiritual relationship with him: Hathaway is the Dark Lady, while Shakespeare himself is the Fair Youth.
According to these, while dedicating them to Shakespeare, she addressed the dedication to Mr “W.H.” instead of “W.S”, to conceal the identity of her lost love. “W.H” are the initials of both her surname and Hathaway’s, implying that Shakespeare was, in a sense, their husband.

But William Shakespeare the man, remains an elusive figure. He left little documentation: no letters, no handwritten manuscripts, few contemporary accounts, and only six signatures, all spelled differently.

In the words of Charles Dickens:The life of Shakespeare is a fine mystery, and I tremble every day lest something should turn up.”

Si ritiene che dopo il matrimonio di Shakespeare con Anne Hathaway, l’altra Anna sia scomparsa nella leggenda locale. Ci sono tuttavia varie teorie su di lei

Una di queste sostiene che abbia davvero sposato in segreto l’adolescente Shakespeare, per poi ritirarsi nell’isolato maniero di Hillborough, situato nella parrocchia di Temple Grafton, diventando una suora cattolica, come prima di lei due suoi fratelli di Agnes si erano fatti preti e lavoravano segretamente a Henley-in-Arden. Quindi Anne o Agnes potrebbero aver mantenuto la tradizione di famiglia e servito come suora in quel maniero solitario.
La tradizione di Stratford insiste sul fatto che Hillborough Manor sia ancora infestato da una White Lady, o Dama Bianca, che si ritiene sia l’ombra infelice dell’amante abbandonata di Shakespeare.

Altri dicono che, sebbene si fosse fatta suora dopo che Shakespeare mise su famiglia a Stratford, la loro intima amicizia continuò fin quando non venne interrotta dalla gelosia della Hathaway, il che costrinse poi Shakespeare a partire per Londra.

Secondo un’altra ipotesi stava già conducendo una vita appartata tra le monache agostiniane, dette anche Dame Bianche, quando incontrò Shakespeare. Si innamorarono e Anne stava per lasciare l’ordine per sposarlo quando la Hathaway rivelò la sua gravidanza. Dopo di che continuò ad essere la sua “amante e consorte in un’unione spirituale.

Ma Shakespeare non la dimenticò mai. Nel poema meno conosciuto dal titolo “A Lover’s Complaint/Il lamento di un’amante”, scrive di uno dei suoi primi successi amatori, che era stato quello di “attrarre una monaca sacra”, una santa sorella che aveva fatto un voto e aveva rifiutato molti pretendenti d’alto lignaggio e che, a quanto pare, lo aveva rimesso in salute con il suo amore.

Il biografo John Aubrey (1626 – 1697), noto per i suoi profili vivaci, intimi e a volte taglienti dei suoi contemporanei. riferì che Shakespeare “era solito andare nel suo Paese natale una volta all’anno”, aggiungendo: “Penso che mi sia stato detto che lasciava 2 o 300 sterline all’anno lì e nei dintorni a una sorella“.

Un’altra teoria suggerisce che Anne fosse così affranta quando lui si sposò, da decidere di allontanarsi e fuggire a Londra. Quando vi arrivò anche Will , i due si incontrarono di nuovo, ancora attratti l’uno dall’altro; ma lui era un uomo sposato e Anne gli divenne una grandissima amica, ardente sostenitrice delle sue opere, orchestrando la sua carriera e influenzando la sua scrittura.

O forse fuggì in Italia, dove acquisì le conoscenze che sarebbero poi state utilizzate nelle svariate opere di argomento italiano di Shakespeare. Potrebbe anche averlo aiutato a scrivere queste e altre sue opere, mentre altri sostengo che lei sia uno dei possibili autori delle opere del Bardo.

In ogni caso era straordinariamente dotata di talento , e alcuni studiosi addirittura affermano che fu lei a scrivere i sonetti come dono a Shakespeare, narrando la storia della loro relazione spirituale: Hathaway è la Dama Bruna, mentre lo stesso Shakespeare è il Bel Giovane.
Secondo questi, pur dedicandoli a Shakespeare, indirizzò la dedica al signor “W.H.” invece di “W.S”, per nascondere l’identità del suo amore perduto. “W.H” sono le iniziali sia del suo cognome che di quello di Hathaway, il che implica che considerasse Shakespeare in un certo senso, marito di entrambe.

Ma l’uomo William Shakespeare, rimane una figura sfuggente. Lasciò poca documentazione: nessuna lettera, nessun manoscritto, pochi resoconti contemporanei e solo sei firme, tutte scritte in modo diverso.

Charles Dickens scrisse queste parole: “La vita di Shakespeare è un bel mistero, e ogni giorno tremo per paura che qualcosa venga a galla”.

Image: William Shakespeare: The Chandos Portrait (the National Portrait Gallery, London). The artist may be a painter called John Taylor  (1585–1651)

44 thoughts on “Shakespeare’s two Annes: 2. Shakespeare’s Other Anne (second part)

  1. I love the way that throughout history, people have come up with vastly different theories as to who the second Anne was in relation to Shakespeare. No one really knows except the two people involved, Anne and William. I believe Hathaway was indeed a jealous wife and why would she not be? She had so much to lose if the other Anne stepped into the light, she probably knew he was enamoured of Anne W to the extent that she feared losing him to her in everything but name.

    It often strikes me as odd that such a prolific man of stories and sonnets should leave so little by way of his own personal story behind. I think he may have hidden himself between the lines of each of his plays, sometimes a main character sometimes a character of lesser importance, sometimes a woman, sometimes a man possibly even sometimes a child. His story is in his work, I believe he left small pieces of himself hidden everywhere. I wonder, if each piece was placed back to back would we find one character with the same traits just a different name, telling a different aspect of their life, running through all of his work…
    It’s what I would have done if I had been him.
    Fabulous post as usual Luisa, as you can see it sparked my imagination to run riot with theories of my own! 🙂 x

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for letting your imagination fly, which gave us a great comment.
      We know little of Shakespeare’s life and, as you say, he may have put pieces of himself in each of his works, as writers usually do. Or, as others say, he was just an actor and other authors were hiding under his name because they wanted to remain unknown

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I never really bought into that whole we want to remain unknown thing, who writes like that and then wants to hide away from the recognition? Not to mention the financial accolades they would have been privy to. I don’t know, Shakespeare’s life was like a rabbit run, once down the hole, you could end up anywhere!
        I just get fascinated with the endless possibilities the lack of factual information presents us with. 🙂 X

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Cresce l’attesa per il prossimo capitolo. Inevitabilmente mi sposto a quel momento in ogni lettura e questo dà a rileggerlo il maggior numero di volte possibile. Buona domenica Luisa. Un grande abbraccio.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Perhaps Will’s desire was to keep people guessing long after his death. Like people these days creating interest out of controversy. No publicity is bad publicity. He was certainly complex and fascinating. Thanks for the tale Luisa. Allan

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Interessante sapere i vari aspetti della vita del Bardo, certo ci sono coincidenze “letterarie” che fanno supporre che tra lui e Agnes la storia non si fosse conclusa, se poi fisica, spirituale o qualsiasi altro si voglia, è bello lasciarlo nel mistero. Come poi lui ha voluto.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Ogni giorno che leggo un tuo articolo su Shakespeare cresce la mia curiosità… Fantasticamente intrigante e intricata la sua vita sentimentale❣❣❣ Grazie di tutto cara Luisa e buona serata 😘

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A wonderful continuation from your last post regarding the Two Annes. I have no doubt in my mind Shakespeare existed. It is strange, that for such a prolific writer, he left very little information regarding himself. Comment is often made that records were not the best back then. That’s not necessarily true as the matter of records depends on who, what, when and where records were stored. On this basis, there seems to be more information uncovered about him each year, although quite dry, but I believe one day, some of that more elusive important information will be found e.g. a note or piece of graffiti that says Shakespeare, Bacon and Fletcher used to drink at the local pub 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for this accurate and well-articulated comment. 🙏🙏🙏
      I too would like more precise information about his life even if I must say that the aura of mystery that surrounds him makes him even more fascinating


  7. Fantastico! La presenza di una donna coautrice; il suo remunerarla (chissà che non ci sia stato anche un frutto del loro amore…); la vita schiva e misteriosa. È avvincente come un romanzo ottocentesco! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Anche a me è piaciuta moltissimo la citazione di Dickens!
    Io “voto” per la versione “italiana” … ad esempio mi sono sempre chiesta perché Siracusa ad esempio, e la risposta generale mi è sempre sembrata un po’ troppo sbrigativa.
    GRAZIE GRAZIE GRAZIE Luisa!! La tua ricerca mi appassiona da matti ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I agree with your comment (above) that the aura and mystery around his life makes the story more fascinating. I’d like to think that he had a true love at times of his life, since his wife was not that, as I would hope for all of us. The emotion in his characters speak to his knowledge of what love can be. I so enjoyed this series.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There is no doubt that in his characters there are all the nuances of love, passion and jealousy. The author must have felt them in order to be able to express them in such a wonderful way
      Thank you so much, dear Ruth, for your great comment 🙏❣️🙏

      Liked by 1 person

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