Lena Cowen Orlin, “Shakespeare’s Marriage”

Lena Cowen Orlin,
Georgetown University

By 1832 Shakespeare’s biographers had already concluded that “among the very few facts of his life that have been transmitted to us, there is none more clearly proved than the unhappiness of his marriage.” Anne Hathaway was eight years older; her premarital pregnancy led to a shotgun wedding; Shakespeare’s dying bequest of a “second-best” bed confirmed his loathing for her. But is this case closed? Lena Orlin discusses new ways of thinking about Shakespeare’s marriage.

Lena Cowen Orlin is professor of English at Georgetown University and was previously executive director of the Folger Institute at the Folger Shakespeare Library. She is also the longtime executive director of the Shakespeare Association of America. She is the author of Locating Privacy in Tudor London (2009) and Private Matters and Public Culture in Post-Reformation England (1994) and has also edited eight volumes on Shakespeare’s work and life, the English Renaissance, and the Elizabethan era. As the 2014–15 M. H. Abrams Fellow at the National Humanities Center, she worked on a book titled The Private Life of William Shakespeare.

 Listen to an interview with Lena Orlin about the topic on WUNC-FM’s The State of Things.