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Shakespeare Connected - Shakespeare Among Readers

7. Interior view of Anne Hathaway’s Cottage - Watercolour - 1900

This painting shows the figure of a young woman, possibly intended to represent Anne Hathaway, reading alone by the window. Women’s reading in Early Modern England was confined to the domestic sphere. Women would not read in public and there is little evidence of female annotations on the margins of books. In 1543, a Royal Act criminalized women reading aloud in public and also required female silent reading at home. Books mainly printed for female readers provided recipes for all kinds of foods and medicines, fashion advice, and ‘all other things belonging to a household’.


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