William Shakespeare famously created masterpieces like Hamlet and Macbeth. His works brought him unmatchable glory and fame. Although the world knows him well because of his literary efforts, yet a few may know about his family and, most notably, about his son. The world knows that he had only one daughter, who was born in 1583.
However, historians wondered about his son’s identity, who died in 1596 before reaching adulthood. It may surprise you to learn that his only son, Hamnet Shakespeare, died at the age of 11 in 1596. It was just two years after William had purchased the Blackfriars Theater in London, where he would write several of his most famous plays.
We may never know what Shakespeare’s family was like or his relationship with his father, John Shakespeare. However, we have evidence that he cared deeply about his wife, Anne Hathaway and the son he lost, who played such an important role in his life and works.
Theories About Hamnet
There are numerous theories about William Shakespeare’s son Hamnet. Danish psychologist and author Bjorn Lidforss put forth the most popular one in his book, A Mystery About Hamnet. Published in 1978, the book presents An Hypothesis; Lidforss asserted that the Earl of Southampton was not only an intimate friend, but also an affair partner to Shakespeare, who could have been Hamnet’s father.
Although I believe that the evidence presented in his book is compelling, this theory fails on many levels. First, the most glaring problem is simply a lack of DNA evidence to prove his hypothesis right or wrong. Secondly, there is no mention of such a relationship in any historical records anywhere.
Thirdly, there is no mention of how he would have met the Earl of Southampton. Fourthly, there is a massive difference between mentioning someone as being friends with someone else versus having sexual relations with them, as he says in his book. Fifthly, it does not explain why Will himself never publicly claimed him to be his own child if he knew for sure who the father was.
Confusing Family Tree of William Shakespeare
We know that John Shakespeare was William Shakespeare’s father and Mary Arden was his mother. But, to our surprise, the curious thing is that there are no records of John or Mary having any children together. Similarly, William Shakespeare’s daughter is known to the world, but his son remains mysterious. This mystery has been tackled by many scholars and scientists over the years, with a range of theories emerging as to what happened to young William’s lost son.
Some believe he was adopted by someone else; others believe he died young and never married. One strange idea is that one of William’s three other kids may have actually been his son, conceived with a lover in secret. The most vital theory, though, is the ‘lost in the wash theory’: after the boy was born, he became sick and passed away shortly after that.
Speculations about His Mysterious Son
There is much mystery around William Shakespeare’s family life, but one question that has baffled historians for years is: What was the name of Bard’s only son? Unfortunately, as it turns out, this question can’t be answered either.
Unlikely as it seems, he doesn’t seem to have had a son in any way. It could just be that his only child was illegitimate or died young and never got recorded on paper. Similarly,
Shakespeare left no mention of his son in his will, and only some scholars have mentioned his son’s existence. Some historians believe that his illegitimate status resulted from an affair with a housemaid. In contrast, others say it was because he had been disowned by his father, John, who refused to provide him with a living.
Some believe he never existed and that many details about him come from William Davenant, who wrote a story about him during the Restoration era called Love and Loyalty. Historians don’t know for sure, but there are various ideas as to why his name was hidden from the public and whether he even existed.
To conclude, according to historians and some facts, the name of William Shakespeare’s only son was Hamnet, who died at a young age. Although historians and critics tackled the existence of his mysterious son in many ways, yet there is no direct mention from William about the existence and name of his son.