What Did Shakespeare Leave His Wife When He Died?


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Cormac Reynolds Profile
Cormac Reynolds answered
William Shakespeare left his wife, Anne Hathaway, his second-best bed when he died. This bequest has left many people speculating on whether it was an insult to her, or whether it has a deeper meaning. The fact is, no one will ever know for sure what Shakespeare’s intention was, but  in Elizabethan days, the best bed was usually kept for guests, and the second-best bed was usually the marital bed, so there could have been a loving and sentimental rationale behind it. It is also worth mentioning that under English Common law, Anne was entitled to a third of her husband’s estate and residence for life anyway, so that did not need to be mentioned in his last will and testament.

Shakespeare left the bulk of his not too inconsiderable estate to his eldest daughter, Susanna, though the terms instructed that she should pass it intact to ‘the first son of her body’. However, she only had one daughter, Elizabeth who died childless in 1670.

There has been much speculation that William Shakespeare did not make any mention of books or manuscripts in his last will and testament, though this is not unusual. Francis Bacon, a contemporary of Shakespeare, who was renowned for his library and the amount of books that he owned, made no mention of his either, so it would appear that this was common practice of the time.

The manuscripts can be easily explained, too. Firstly, Shakespeare did not start to get the recognition that is his today until the 19th century, so there was no indication at the time of his death that there would be any value to them, and even had he wanted to bequeath them to someone as a memorial of himself, they didn’t actually belong to him. All manuscripts of the time belonged to the playhouse to which a writer was employed.
robert wiiliams Profile
robert wiiliams answered
His will states that he left her, 'the second best bed!'. This is no insult, this simply means that the best bed was kept for guests! Anne was well provided for after her husband's death, and remained so until her own death seven years later.

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