On This Day in History: November 28
Shakespeare gets married
Shall I compare thee to a smokin’ hot babe? Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 is actually about a dude, the subject matter being achieving immortality via the written word rather than poem-ing your way into someone’s pants. Anyway, William wooed an older woman into marriage when he was only a teen, long before he got famous.
--On This Day in History, Shit Went Down: November 28, 1582--
I don’t understand the Anne Hathaway hate. She seems perfectly lovely to me. But this is about a different AH, who William married on November 28, 1582, when he was 18 and she was 26. By some miracle, Anne gave birth to a healthy baby girl a mere six months later. As my father, who was intimately familiar with such circumstances, once said, “The first baby can come along any time in a new marriage. All the kids that follow usually take about nine months.”
Two years later, after a nine-month incubation period, Anne gave birth to twins and William was all I’m feeling kinda trapped in this Stratford-upon-Avon place, I’m headed for the big city to be an actor. And so, he left Anne and the kids behind and moved to London. And he acted. He also wrote some shit. Quite a bit of shit. Although it’s not shit. It’s good shit. Shit that earned him regard as the greatest writer in the English language. There is only one “The Bard.” Continues below …
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He returned home frequently to visit, but while he was in London and Anne was at home managing the house and raising the children, it’s alleged that William was prone to dipping his feather into a variety of inkwells. And perhaps not just female ones at that. Some of Shakespeare’s poems have historians musing The Bard may have been bisexual. The aforementioned Sonnet 18 is about a man, comparing him “to a summer’s day” and continuing with “Thou art more lovely and more temperate.” In Sonnet 52 he expressed love for a young man and made mention of a boner about to rend some raiment. “By new unfolding his imprison’d pride”? That’s an erection pushing out of a pair of pants.
But it’s also possible the analysis reads too much into such works. It was a different time, and close and loving friendships between those of the same gender that were not sexual in nature were often exalted, even considered better than a man loving a woman. Male friends were allowed to show such affection for one another back then. If I’d written poems expressing affection for my male friends and talking about how hot they were, well, let’s just say toxic masculinity sucks.
Anyway, it’s also possible the poems were not intended to be autobiographical, but just a fictional representation of the writings of some … other dude. Not that it matters, but it is something that scholars have debated, with many saying Shakespeare played for both teams and others saying no fucking way. William Shakespeare retired at the age of 49 and returned to his wife in Stratford-upon-Avon, dying three years later. Although they’d had three children, he has no direct living descendants.
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