The last page of the Stratford Will


We have few records from the life of William Shakespeare.

Most are related to petty lawsuits or the purchase of property. The most personal document that remains is his Last Will & Testament.

Researcher Bonner Miller Cutting looked at some 3,000 wills from Shakespeare’s day, and in this fascinating interview she describes what she learned about the daily lives of people of that era and about Gentle Will from Stratford-upon-Avon.

She sets the infamous “Second Best Bed” bequest in its context, giving us a look into Shakespeare’s relationship with his wife, Anne Hathaway.


Shakespeare' Will, Page 2

Page 2 of the Stratford Will (courtesy kittivanilli at flickr)


Recommended Reading

Books and articles for further exploration:

Please visit our Resources page for websites relating to the Shakespeare Authorship Question


Read the Will
A transcript of the Will that preserves much of the original formatting (but still adds a few periods):
Shakespeare’s Last Will and Testament


Bonner Miller Cutting

Bonner Miller Cutting

Bonner Miller Cutting is a Trustee of the Shakespeare Fellowship, and on the Board of Directors of the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition, and has presented papers at several authorship conferences. Ms. Cutting has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Tulane University and a Masters of Music degree in piano performance from McNeese State University. She has been doing research into early modern English wills for several years, and is planning to compile her findings into a book.

 This interview was recorded on August 27, 2011. 


Theme Music is “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by DoKashiteru (feat. Snoman, yacou, AGFX, suonho) via under a Creative Commons license: Creative Commons / CC BY 3.0

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  1. Kathryn Sharpe says:

    This is a great introduction to Bonner’s research on the will. Congratulations!

  2. Blair Gubernath says:

    This is a long time coming! Excellent! Great work! I look forward to hear the other podcasts!

  3. sue says:

    I enjoyed this.

  4. [...] Shakespeare Fellowship board members Bonner Miller Cutting and Tom Regnier have been featured on Jennifer Newton’s new podcast website, Shakespeare Underground. Newton describes her site as a podcast series that examines the works and life of William Shakespeare, and explores why there has been doubt about the authorship of the plays, sonnets, and other poetry. The site launched this fall and the first episode featured Newman’s interview with Bonner Miller Cutting discussing Cuttings research into Elizabethan wills, titled “Where There’s a Will.” [...]

  5. Barbara Crowley says:

    I’m so glad I lived long enough to hear this speech. I am 88 years old. I’m so glad I still am alive to listen to the facts brought to light in such a vivid presentation. Thank you for the presentation. Three times “hurrah”.

    1. Jennifer says:

      Thank you very much for listening!

  6. Ricardo Mena says:

    The introductory female voice is so smooth and honey-tongued…

    1. Jennifer says:

      thank you for listening!

  7. [...] Viewing the will in the best possible light, the exalted 19th century authority James Halliwell sums it up as “the testimonies we may cherish of his last faltering accents to the world he was leaving.” Failing such eloquence, many scholars are resigned to accepting the Stratford Will more simply as “an enigma”. A closer look may show that the will is not an enigma; it is a disaster. (Brief Chronicles Vol.I) [...]

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