Little is known about the wife of the world's most famous playwright, but much is said about her. Ann Hathaway has been mocked and vilified by scholars for centuries. The glaring omission of her name from Shakespeare's will has been gleefully used by many as evidence that she was nothing more than an ugly old wench whom William was shackled to after a thoughtless roll in the hay in his giddy youth. Yet Shakespeare went on to become the very poet of marriage, exploring the sacrament in all its aspects, spiritual, psychological, sexual and sociological. He is the creator of the most tenacious and intelligent heroines in English literature. Is it possible, therefore, that Ann was the inspiration? Until now, there has been no serious critical scholarship devoted to the much-wronged Ann Hathaway. Part-biography, part-history, "Shakespeare's Wife" is fascinating in its reconstruction of Ann's life, and the daily lives of Elizabethan women. Germaine Greer offers an illuminating portrait of their working routines, the rituals of their courtship, and the minutiae of married life.
Germaine Greer gained her PhD from the University of Cambridge in 1967 with a thesis on Shakespeare's early comedies and has taught Shakespeare at universities in Australia, Britain and the US. In 1986 she was invited to contribute the volume on Shakespeare to the prestigious Past Masters series. In 1989 she set up her own publishing imprint, Stump Cross Books, and went on to publish scholarly editions of Katherine Philips, Anne Wharton and Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea. She lives on three acres by a motorway exit in north-west Essex, with two dogs, thirteen geese and a fluctuating number of doves. Shakespeare's Wife has also been shortlisted for The Prime Minister's Literary Awards.