The Story About Shakespeare’s “Second-Best” Bed

All Is True (2018)

DVD Cover

Anne Hathaway is an enigma to modern society. How could she tolerate her husband being away from Stratford-upon-Avon so much, when he was writing and producing plays in London? Was she really such a doormat, or was she just long-suffering? Who knows, eh?

In his will Shakespeare famously made only one bequest to his wife, his “second-best bed with the furniture”. There is no reference to the “best” bed, which would have been included in the main bequest to Susanna. This bequest to Anne has often been interpreted as a slight, implying that Anne was in some sense only the “second best” person in his intimate life. A few explanations have been offered: first, it has been claimed that, according to law, Hathaway was entitled to receive one third of her husband’s estate, regardless of his will, though this has been disputed. It has been speculated that Hathaway was to be supported by her children. Germaine Greer suggests that the bequests were the result of agreements made at the time of Susanna’s marriage to Dr Hall: that she (and thus her husband) inherited the bulk of Shakespeare’s estate. Shakespeare had business ventures with Dr Hall, and consequently appointed John and Susanna as executors of his will. Dr Hall and Susanna inherited and moved into New Place after Shakespeare’s death. This would also explain other examples of Shakespeare’s will being apparently ungenerous, as in its treatment of his younger daughter Judith.


Ben Elton, who wrote the script, obviously had this in mind when he wrote the scene in the film that encapsulates who was the boss in the Shakespeare household: retiring for the night, Anne and William go to their separate rooms; his is the ‘best bed’ reserved for guests (!) and hers is the ‘second-best’ bed. Only later in he film, after Judith confesses what she did to Hamnet, does Anne invite Will to sleep in the second-best bed with her.

Anne Hathaway’s childhood “cottage” (from my own archives)

About cdsmiller17

I am an Astrologer who also writes about world events. My first eBook "At This Point in Time" is available through most on-line book stores. I have now serialized my second book "The Star of Bethlehem" here. And I am experimenting with birth and death charts. If you wish to contact me, or request a birth chart, send an email to (And, in case you are also interested, I have an extensive list of celebrity birth and death details if you wish to 'confirm' what you suspect may be a past-life experience of yours.) Bless.
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