Lena Orlin is Professor of English at Georgetown University, Washington DC, is the author of Locating Privacy in Tudor London (Oxford, 2009) and Private Matters and Public Culture in Post-Reformation England (Cornell, 1994). Among her publications are also nine essay collections, including Shakespeare: An Oxford Guide (edited with Stanley Wells, 2003), and the anthology Elizabethan Households (Folger, 1995). She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon as well as the Executive Committees of the International Shakespeare Conference of the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon, the International Shakespeare Association, and the Central Executive Committee of the Folger Institute. She serves on the editorial boards of the journals Shakespeare Studies (US) and Shakespeare Survey (UK) and is co-general editor of the Arden Shakespeare State of Play Series and the Oxford Shakespeare Topics series.
Shakespeare’s wife has been both romanticized and reviled. There’s room for either point of view, whether in popular culture or in scholarly biographies, because we seem to have so little real information about her. But is this truly the case? Without question, the handful of documents that can be connected to her are frustratingly obscure. If we experiment with reading these documents in light of fuller records for other Stratford-upon-Avon women, however, we may find a different Anne Hathaway than we have known: a working woman, running a business as well as the Shakespeare household.