Did you know that there’s actually two documented references to William Shakespeare’s marriage … to two different people? Days before his recorded marriage to Anne Hathaway is another line, referring to Anne Whateley. Most frequently this is written off as clerical error or simple misspelling in a time when Mr. Shakespeare himself seems to never really write his name the same way twice. But what if Anne Whateley was a real person, Shakespeare’s true first love, and his marriage to her was unable to happen because he went and knocked up Anne Hathaway? Could you get a book out of that premise? http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/120268-mistress-shakespeare-by-karen-harper/ Karen Harper did. Better than just a planned first marriage that did not occur, she goes all Romeo and Juliet and has Will and Anne#1 marry in secret, but then he has to go and do the shotgun wedding thing with that other hussy. I’m not sure, reading this review, whether Anne#1 ever takes issue with her man knocking up some other broad, or if she’s cool like that. I suppose it’s a quaint idea, but as for the reviewer’s suggestion that “Shakespeare buffs need something new to mull over, and Harper provides it,” I dunno about that. I’m sure it makes a nice story, and we do all love to map “real” stories onto Shakespeare’s archetypes for maximum effect, but how realistic would a “secret” wedding have been, really? From everything I’ve understood about the time period, documentation and doing such things by letter of the law was very important. Didn’t they even need special permission of some sort to waive some requirements in order to make the wedding happen in a hurry? If it was at all as easy as grabbing a priest and saying I Do, I think they would have done that first and filled out the paperwork later. But then, I’m no expert in the historical side of things like Ms. Harper, so maybe this sort of thing happened all the time?