What Did Shakespeare Leave His Wife in His Will?

did-shakespeare-leave-his-wife-his Credit: Visit Britain /Britain on View/Getty Images

Shortly before his death on April 25, 1616, famed English poet and playwright William Shakespeare constructed his last will and testament, which stated that upon his death, his wife Anne would receive his second best bed. In fact, this is the only mention of Anne in Shakespeare's will and testament, which many scholars and historians have taken as a sign that their marriage was not a happy one.

There is no definitive answer as to whether Shakespeare leaving his wife nothing but his second best bed was intended as an insult. However, it is important to note that English Common Law at the time dictated that as his wife, Anne was entitled to both one-third of his entire estate and a permanent place to live at his New Place home - although New Place itself was given to Shakespeare's daughter Susanna and her husband John Hall.

It is also worth pointing out that the term second best bed refers to the marital bed that William and Anne Shakespeare shared, as the best bed was always reserved for guests. So, while some may feel that this seemingly insignificant gift to Anne shows that they had a bad marriage, Anne was still well taken care of after Shakespeare's death thanks to English Common Law.