Trigger Warning: Child Loss
“If William Shakespeare wrote about his son’s death at all, he concealed it in the lines of his late sonnets and plays that reveal a depth of understanding about grief.” – Vanessa Thorpe, Alas, Poor Hamnet, The Guardian
Because there is so little known about Shakespeare’s private life, we are left to speculate. We no nothing of his private life and his relationship with his family. All we know is what is contained within the surviving records. We know he had three children: two daughters and one son. We also know that his only son died at the age of eleven. That is all we know of Hamnet Shakespeare. The rest is left to speculation.
Hamnet seems to be a particular focus of speculation because his name reminds us of Hamlet, one of Shakespeare’s most tragic characters. The similarity is not lost on us, so it is easy to assume it was not lost on Shakespeare. We don’t have any of Shakespeare’s personal writings, so we don’t have any personal testimonies as a grieving father. However, we can look to his writing for hints of the long lost Hamnet and what he meant to Shakespeare.
Fair warning, this episode is a little more somber than usual.
The Death of Hamnet and the Making of Hamlet by Stephen Greenblatt
Alas Poor Hamnet: spotlight falls on Shakespeare’s tragic only son by Vanessa Thorpe in The Gaurdian
Teller of Tales by Kevin MacLeod
Minstrel Guild by KevinMacLeod