Anne Hathaway (poem)

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Anne Hathaway 
by Carol Ann Duffy
Publication date 1999 (1999)

"Anne Hathaway" is a poem by Carol Ann Duffy about Anne Hathaway, the wife of William Shakespeare.


This poem, a sonnet, appears in The World's Wife, published in 1999, a collection of poems. The poem is based on the famous passage from Shakespeare's will regarding his "second-best bed". Duffy chooses the view that this would be their marriage bed, and so a memento of their love, not a slight. Anne remembers their lovemaking as a form of "romance and drama", unlike the "prose" written on the best bed used by guests, "I hold him in the casket of my widow's head/ as he held me upon that next best bed".

In The Second Best Bed and the Legacy of Anne Hathaway, Katherine Scheil describes it as "… [centering] on an intimate relationship between the Shakespeares and the second best bed: 'The bed we loved in was a spinning world / of forests, castles, torchlight, clifftops, seas / where he would dive for pearls' while 'In the other bed, the best, our guests dozed on, / dribbling their prose'".[1] She sees Duffy's poem as belonging to a category of recent takes on Anne Hathaway that "… have used the 'second- best bed' as an inspiration for imagining some sort of connection (emotional, sexual, or both) between the Shakespeares."[1]

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