Shakespeare's Children: Tracing The Bard's Family Tree

By Karen Harris
William Shakespeare (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

Considering the volume and significance of William Shakespeare's work, it's easy to overlook his status as a family man. Just like many other middle-aged men, Shakespeare had a wife and children he hoped would carry on his legacy. But these were perilous times, and between various plagues, wars, and plain old staggering infant mortality, no one was guaranteed a lasting bloodline.

Shakespeare In Love

Shakespeare was so young—just 18 years old—when he married 26-year-old Anne Hathaway in 1582 that he needed his father to approve the union. Since Hathaway was already three months pregnant, the couple also had to ask the Bishop's Court in Worcester for permission to marry quickly before the baby was born and caused more of a scandal, but the damage was already done. Some historians believe this first daughter—Susanna, baptized on May 26, 1583—wasn't Shakespeare's biological child. The name, which was taken from the Book of Daniel and associated with purity, was often given to children born "perilously close to the wrong side of marriage."